Actor Richard Kiel has died at the age of 74. The 7’2 tall, Detroit-born actor had been admitted to a hospital in Fresno after breaking his leg last week.
Kiel starred in numerous films and TV shows over the years including “Happy Gilmore,” “Tangled,” “Force 10 from Navarone,” “The Longest Yard,” “The Nutty Professor,” “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” “The Greatest American Hero,” “Starsky and Hutch,” “Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” “The Wild Wild West,” “The Twilight Zone,” “I Dream of Jeanie,” “I Spy,” “Daniel Boone,” “Simon and Simon” and more.
At one point he and Arnold Schwarzenegger were the original choices to play the title character in the 1977 TV series “The Incredible Hulk”. Kiel was cast and shot the pilot, but was ultimately replaced by Lou Ferrigno.
It is, however, one role in two films that Kiel will always be remembered for – the iconic steel-toothed henchman Jaws in the Roger Moore-era of the James Bond film series.
Kiel first played the role in 1977’s “The Spy Who Loved Me,” still considered one of the best films in the long-running franchise. Originally he was to be killed off, but proved so popular in test screenings he survived and reprised the role two years later in the far less well-regarded “Moonraker”. That was also the film where the mute character spoke his only on screen line – “well, here’s to us.”
Plans to have him return in the next film, “For Your Eyes Only,” were dropped when that film opted to ground the franchise in a serious story after the goofiness of “Moonraker”.
Kiel also suffered a bad head injury in 1992 in a car accident, which affected his balance. He was subsequently forced to walk with a cane to support himself.