Bond villain Richard 'Jaws' Kiel dead at 74

Richard Kiel

One of 007's greatest screen adversaries has passed beyond the realm of human understanding.

Actor Richard Kiel died on Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 10) at a hospital in Fresno, Calif., according to multiple media reports. The 74-year-old Kiel was perhaps best known as Jaws, the hulking assassin with a mouthful of deadly steel teeth who tried to put the bite on Roger Moore in two 007 adventures, The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979).

But sci-fi fans will also remember the 7-foot-2 Kiel as the Kanamit, the alien being who brings a book and a special plan for humankind to Earth in the classic Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man." 

His career included a slew of sci-fi B-movies like The Phantom Planet (1962), The Human Duplicators (1965) and The Humanoid (1979), as well as mainstream Hollywood fare like The Longest Yard (1974), Silver Streak (1976) and Clint Eastwood's Pale Rider (1985). He also appeared in Adam Sandler's Happy Gilmore (1996) and was the voice of Vlad in Disney's 2010 animated hit Tangled.

His many other TV credits included Laramie, Thriller, The Rifleman, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., I Dream of JeannieThe Wild, Wild West, Kolchak: The Night Stalker and Starsky & Hutch. Kiel was originally cast as the Hulk in the pilot for the 1977 TV series The Incredible Hulk, but the producers felt that he was not muscular enough and replaced him with Lou Ferrigno, although one shot of Kiel as the Hulk remains in the pilot. Kiel himself was reportedly glad to leave the role because he reacted badly to the contact lenses and green makeup.

Kiel was born in Detroit, Mich., on Sept. 13, 1939, and worked as a nightclub bouncer and cemetery plot salesman before breaking into the acting field. He suffered from acromegaly, a hormonal condition that contributed to his extreme height and heavily pronounced facial features. A spokesperson said that Kiel was admitted to the hospital last week with a broken leg, but it is unclear whether that was connected to his death.

The actor is survived by his wife of 40 years, Diane, along with four children and nine grandchildren, and will always be remembered as the only henchman ever to be invited back for a second Bond film.

Rest in peace, sir. 

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