Richard Dawson Kiel
September 13, 1939
|Died||September 10, 2014 (aged 74)|
Fresno, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Belmont Memorial Park|
|Notable credits||Jaws in the James Bond films|
|Height||7 ft 2 in (218 cm)|
(m. 1960; div. 1973)
Richard Dawson Kiel (September 13, 1939 – September 10, 2014) was an American actor. Standing 7 ft 2 in (218 cm) tall, he was known for portraying Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979). Kiel's next-most-recognized role is the tough but eloquent Mr. Larson in Happy Gilmore (1996). Other notable films include The Longest Yard (1974), Silver Streak (1976), Force 10 from Navarone (1978), Cannonball Run II (1984), Pale Rider (1985), and Tangled (2010).
Kiel was born in Detroit. His extraordinary height was a result of gigantism, a condition caused by an excess of human growth hormone. When he was nine years old, his family moved to Los Angeles County, where Kiel graduated from Baldwin Park High School.
Before becoming an actor, Kiel worked in several jobs, including as a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman, a nightclub bouncer, and as a cemetery plot salesman. From 1963 to 1965, Kiel worked as a night-school mathematics instructor at the William B. Ogden Radio Operational School in Burbank, California.
His career included movies, TV guest starring, and co-authoring.
Kiel appeared in many television shows throughout the 1960s to the 1980s, including the famous 1962 Twilight Zone episode, "To Serve Man", where he portrayed the 9-foot tall Kanamit alien. Other TV series he appeared in included Laramie ("Street of Hate", 1961), I Dream of Jeannie, The Rifleman ("The Decision", 1961), Honey West, Gilligan's Island, The Monkees, Daniel Boone, Emergency!, Starsky & Hutch, Land of the Lost, Simon & Simon, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and The Fall Guy.
Due to his size, Kiel was often cast in villainous roles. He appeared as Voltaire, the towering mute-but-lethal assistant to Dr. Miguelito Loveless in three first-season episodes of The Wild Wild West. In the Man from U.N.C.L.E. episode "The Vulcan Affair" (1964), Kiel appeared as a guard in Vulcan's plant and portrayed Merry in "The Hong Kong Shilling Affair". In 1967, he played a monster in The Monkees episode "I Was a Teenage Monster".
He later appeared in an episode of The Wild Wild West, titled "The Night of the Simian Terror", as Dimas, the outcast son of a wealthy family, banished because of birth defects that distorted his body and apparently affected his mind. The episode first aired February 16, 1968. This episode is significant, because it allowed Kiel the opportunity to really act rather than just look intimidating.
In 1977, Kiel and Arnold Schwarzenegger were both considered for playing the Hulk in the American television series The Incredible Hulk. After Schwarzenegger was turned down due to his height, Kiel started filming the pilot. However, the producers quickly decided they wanted a more muscular Hulk rather than the towering Kiel, so he was dismissed. Kiel later said he did not mind losing the part, because as he could only see out of one eye, he reacted badly to the contact lenses he had to wear for the role. He also found the green makeup unpleasant and difficult to remove. His scenes were then reshot with Lou Ferrigno.
Kiel broke into films in the early 1960s with Eegah (1962), which was later featured on Elvira's Movie Macabre and Mystery Science Theater 3000, as were The Phantom Planet (1961) and The Human Duplicators (1965). He also produced, co-wrote, and starred in The Giant of Thunder Mountain (1991). He also had a brief non-speaking appearance leaving a gym in the Jerry Lewis movie The Nutty Professor (1963).
The James Bond film producers spotted Kiel in Barbary Coast, and thought he was ideal for the role of Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). He was one of the few Bond villains to appear in two Bond films, later appearing in Moonraker (1979). He was often shot with his mouth closed or briefly showing his dangerous smile as he admitted the mouthpiece to simulate the metal teeth was extremely painful to wear and could only be used for a few minutes on every take. Because he suffered from acrophobia (fear of heights), a stunt double was used during the cable car stunt scenes because Kiel refused to be filmed on the top of a cable car more than 2,000 feet (610 m) above the ground. He reprised his role of Jaws in the video game called James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing, supplying his voice and likeness. This was his second outing as a metal-toothed villain; a year before being cast in The Spy Who Loved Me, he had played Reace in the comedy-thriller film Silver Streak (1976). He used his size for comedic effect, as the "best-dressed giant" Mr. Eddie, in So Fine with Ryan O'Neal. Kiel also starred in the film Pale Rider (1985). Acting as the main antagonist's henchman, he redeems his character's status by saving the hero from a gunshot to the back.
Although earlier roles had offered him little dialogue, his role in Happy Gilmore (1996) was quite the opposite. As Mr. Larson, Happy Gilmore's former employer, Kiel exchanges several one-liners with both Adam Sandler's Happy and Christopher McDonald's Shooter McGavin. Kiel took a quieter profile after Happy Gilmore's release, but left semi-retirement to record a role for Tangled (2010). In the acclaimed animated Disney film, he portrayed Vlad, a surprisingly softhearted thug who collects ceramic unicorns.
|1960||The D.I.||Ugly Marine||Uncredited|
|1961||Run of the Hunted||Toland's Assistant||Uncredited|
|1961||The Phantom Planet||The Solarite|
|1963||House of the Damned||Giant|
|1963||The Nutty Professor||Bodybuilder #1||Uncredited|
|1963||Lassie's Great Adventure||Chinook Pete|
|1963||30 Minutes at Gunsight||Unknown||Tv Short|
|1964||The Nasty Rabbit||Ranch Foreman||Uncredited|
|1965||Two on a Guillotine||Tall Man At Funeral||Uncredited|
|1965||The Human Duplicators||Dr. Kolos|
|1965||Brainstorm||Psychiatric Hospital Patient||Uncredited|
|1966||The Las Vegas Hillbillys||"Moose"|
|1967||A Man Called Dagger||Otto|
|1968||Now You See It, Now You Don't||Nori||TV movie|
|1970||On a Clear Day You Can See Forever||The Blacksmith||Uncredited|
|1973||Deadhead Miles||Dick "Big Dick"|
|1974||The Longest Yard||Samson|
|1975||Flash and the Firecat||Tracker|
|1977||The Spy Who Loved Me||Jaws|
|1977||The Incredible Hulk||0||TV series, One scene, Uncredited|
|1978||Wu zi tian shi||"Steel Hand"|
|1978||Force 10 from Navarone||Captain Drazak|
|1978||They Went That-A-Way & That-A-Way||Duke|
|1979||Moonraker||Jaws||Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|1984||Aces Go Places 3||"Big G"|
|1984||Cannonball Run II||Arnold / Mitsubishi Driver|
|1985||Qing bao long hu men||Laszlo|
|1989||The Princess and the Dwarf||Unknown|
|1991||The Giant of Thunder Mountain||Eli Weaver|
|1996||Happy Gilmore||Mr. Larson|
|1999||Inspector Gadget||Famous Big Guy With Silver Teeth||Parody of Jaws. Part of "The Minion Recovery Group"|
|2010||The Corpse of Albert Cradette||Albert Cradette|
|2010||Tangled||Vladimir||Voice (final film role)|
|1958||The Rifleman||Bit Part Bully|
|1960||Klondike||Duff Brannigan||Episode: "Bare Knuckles"|
|1961||Laramie||Rake, Tolan's Helper||Episode: "Run of the Hunted", Uncredited|
|1961||The Phantom||Mike "Big Mike"|
|1961||Thriller||Master Styx||Episode: "Well of Doom"|
|1961||The Rifleman||Corey Hazlitt's Cousin Carl||Episode: "The Decision"|
|1962||The Twilight Zone||Kanamit alien||Episode: "To Serve Man"|
|1963||The Paul Bunyan Show||Paul Bunyan|
|1964||The Man from U.N.C.L.E.||Henchman for Mr. Vulcan||Episode: "The Vulcan Affair"|
|1965||The Man from U.N.C.L.E.||Merry||Episode: "The Hong Kong Shilling Affair"|
|1965||I Dream of Jeannie||Ali||Episode: "My Hero"|
|1966||Honey West||Groalgo||Episode: "King of the Mountain"|
|1966||My Mother the Car||"Cracks"||Episode: "A Riddler on the Roof"|
|1966||The Wild Wild West||Voltaire||Episodes: "The Night the Wizard Shook the Earth"|
1965: "The Night That Terror Stalked the Town"
1965: "The Night of the Whirring Death"
|1966||Gilligan's Island||Ghost||Episode: "Ghost-a-Go-Go"|
|1967||The Monkees||Monster||S1:E18, "I Was a Teenage Monster"|
|1967||The Monroes||Casmir||Episode: "Ghosts of Paradox"|
|1968||I Spy||"Tiny"||Episode: "A Few Miles West of Nowhere"|
|1968||The Wild Wild West||Dimas||Episode: "The Night of the Simian Terror"|
|1968||It Takes a Thief||Willie Trion||Episode: "The Galloping Skin Game"|
|1969||Daniel Boone||Le Mouche||Episode: "Benvenuto...Who?"|
|1970||Disneyland||Luke Brown||Episode: "The Boy Who Stole the Elephant: Part 1 & 2"|
|1974||Kolchak: The Night Stalker||The Diablero||Episode: "Bad Medicine"|
|1974||Emergency!||Carlo||Episode: "I'll Fix It"|
|1974||Kolchak: The Night Stalker||The "Père Malfait"||Episode: "The Spanish Moss Murders"|
|1975||Switch||Loach||Episode: "Death Heist"|
|1976||Starsky & Hutch||Iggy||Episode: "Omaha Tiger"|
|1975–1976||Barbary Coast||"Moose" Moran||14 episodes, 1975–1976|
|1977||Land of the Lost||Malak||Episodes: "Survival Kit"|
|1977||The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries||The Manager||Episode: "The Mystery of the Haunted House"|
|1977||Young Dan'l Boone||Unknown||Episode: "The Game"|
|1980||Match Game PM||Himself, Panelist||Five episodes|
|1981||The Fall Guy||Animal||Episode: "That's Right, We're Bad"|
|1983||Simon & Simon||Mark Horton||Episode: "The Skeleton Who Came Out of the Closet"|
|1988||Out of This World||Norman||Episode: "Go West, Young Mayor"|
|1989||Superboy||Vlkabok||Episode: "Mr. and Mrs. Superboy"|
|2000||Bloodhounds Inc.||Mortimer||Episode: "Fangs for the Memories"|
|1997||GoldenEye 007||Jaws||Uncredited use of likeness|
|1998||James Bond 007||Jaws|
|2000||007: The World Is Not Enough||Jaws||Uncredited use of likeness|
|2000||007 Racing||Jaws||Archival footage|
|2004||James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing||Jaws||Credited use of likeness|
|2010||GoldenEye 007||Jaws||Uncredited use of likeness|
|2012||007 Legends||Jaws||Uncredited use of likeness|
Personal life and death
Kiel's first marriage was to Faye Daniels in 1960. They divorced in 1973. One year later he married Diane Rogers, who stood more than two feet shorter at 5 ft 1 in (154 cm) tall. Their marriage lasted for 40 years, until his death. They had four children and nine grandchildren. Despite being over two feet taller than his second wife, she described their mutual attraction as "We see eye to eye on so many things."
In 1992, Kiel suffered a severe head injury in a car accident, which impacted his balance. Consequently, he had to rely on a cane for support, as seen in his appearance in Happy Gilmore. Later in life, Kiel utilized a scooter or wheelchair for mobility.
Kiel co-authored a biography of the abolitionist Cassius Marcellus Clay titled Kentucky Lion. In 2002, Kiel published his autobiography, Making It Big in the Movies. Kiel was also a born-again Christian. His website states his religious conversion helped him to overcome alcoholism.
- Weber, Bruce (September 11, 2014). "Richard Kiel Dies at 74; Played Jaws in Bond Films". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 29, 2019. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
- "Richard Kiel obituary". The Guardian. London. September 11, 2014. Archived from the original on March 14, 2015. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
- "Why Was This Woman Gaining Weight Despite Her Diet?". The New York Times. April 14, 2016. Archived from the original on April 17, 2016. Retrieved April 18, 2016.
- Chawkins, Steve (September 12, 2014). "Actor was "Jaws" in Bond films". Los Angeles Times. p. AA5. Archived from the original on May 25, 2022. Retrieved April 3, 2022.
- Holland, Maggie (January 6, 2009). "The Den of Geek interview: Richard Kiel". Den of Geek. Archived from the original on April 26, 2012. Retrieved April 3, 2022.
- "Actor Richard Kiel taught math at Ogden's Radio School in '63". Modesto Radio Museum. October 20, 2019. Archived from the original on December 14, 2020. Retrieved December 14, 2020.
- Stephanie Abrahams (May 9, 2012). "Happy Birthday Hulk: Celebrating 50 Years of the Big Green Monster: The Incredible Hulk TV Show (1978-1982)". Time. Retrieved December 12, 2022.
- Gloria Donen Sosin (June 7, 1987). "SPEAKING PERSONALLY; An Extra-Ordinary Day at the Movies". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 28, 2022. Retrieved December 28, 2022.
Richard somebody, a hulk of a man who played a steel-tooth killer in a James Bond movie, is the villain.
- Richard Kiel (2002). Making It Big in the Movies. ?Reynolds & Hearn. ISBN 978-1-9031-1131-4.
- Kiel, Richard. "Richard Kiel's Testimony". Official Richard Kiel Fan Club. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
- "Bond Villain Died Of Heart Disease". TMZ. October 9, 2014. Archived from the original on September 15, 2015. Retrieved November 20, 2014.