Richard Kiel

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Richard Kiel
Kiel as Eegah (1962)
Richard Dawson Kiel

(1939-09-13)September 13, 1939
DiedSeptember 10, 2014(2014-09-10) (aged 74)
Resting placeBelmont Memorial Park
Years active1958–2014
Notable creditsJaws in the James Bond films
Height7 ft 2 in (218 cm)
Faye Daniels
(m. 1960; div. 1973)
Diane Rogers
(m. 1974)

Richard Dawson Kiel (September 13, 1939 – September 10, 2014)[1] 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).

Early life[edit]

Kiel was born in Detroit.[2] His extraordinary height was a result of gigantism, a condition caused by an excess of human growth hormone.[3] When he was nine years old, his family moved to Los Angeles County, where Kiel graduated from Baldwin Park High School.[4]

Before becoming an actor, Kiel worked in several jobs, including as a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman,[4] a nightclub bouncer, and as a cemetery plot salesman.[5] From 1963 to 1965, Kiel worked as a night-school mathematics instructor at the William B. Ogden Radio Operational School in Burbank, California.[6]


His career included movies, TV guest starring, and co-authoring.[1]


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.

Michael Dunn and Kiel on the set of The Wild Wild West

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.[5] His scenes were then reshot with Lou Ferrigno.[7]


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.


Kiel at Supanova Pop Culture 2014


Year Title Role Notes
1960 The D.I. Ugly Marine Uncredited
1961 Run of the Hunted Toland's Assistant Uncredited
1961 The Phantom Planet The Solarite
1962 Eegah Eegah
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 Roustabout Strong Man Uncredited
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
1968 Skidoo "Beany"
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
1976 Gus Large Man
1976 Silver Streak Reace
1977 The Spy Who Loved Me Jaws
1977 The Incredible Hulk[7] 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 The Humanoid Golob
1979 Moonraker Jaws[8] Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
1981 So Fine[8] Eddie
1983 Hysterical Captain Howdy
1983 Phoenix Steel Hand
1984 Aces Go Places 3 "Big G"
1984 Cannonball Run II Arnold / Mitsubishi Driver
1985 Pale Rider Club
1985 Qing bao long hu men Laszlo
1989 Think Big Irving
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"
2009 The Awakened Jasper
2010 The Corpse of Albert Cradette Albert Cradette
2010 Tangled Vladimir Voice (final film role)


Kiel as Ali with Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman in I Dream of Jeannie, 1965
Year Title Role Notes
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"
"Flying Dutchman"
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"

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
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[edit]

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.[5] They had four children and nine grandchildren.[2] 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."[1]

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.[9] Kiel was also a born-again Christian. His website states his religious conversion helped him to overcome alcoholism.[10]

On September 10, 2014, three days before his 75th birthday, Kiel died at St. Agnes Medical Center in Fresno, California, from heart disease.[1][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d 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.
  2. ^ a b "Richard Kiel obituary". The Guardian. London. September 11, 2014. Archived from the original on March 14, 2015. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  3. ^ "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.
  4. ^ a b 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.
  5. ^ a b c 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.
  6. ^ "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.
  7. ^ a b 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.
  8. ^ a b 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.
  9. ^ Richard Kiel (2002). Making It Big in the Movies. ?Reynolds & Hearn. ISBN 978-1-9031-1131-4.
  10. ^ Kiel, Richard. "Richard Kiel's Testimony". Official Richard Kiel Fan Club. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
  11. ^ "Bond Villain Died Of Heart Disease". TMZ. October 9, 2014. Archived from the original on September 15, 2015. Retrieved November 20, 2014.

External links[edit]