FRESNO, Calif. – Richard Kiel, the towering actor best known for portraying steel-toothed villain Jaws in a pair of James Bond films, has died. He was 74.
Kelley Sanchez, director of communications at Saint Agnes Medical Center, confirmed Wednesday that Kiel was a patient at the hospital and died. Kiel’s agent, Steven Stevens, also confirmed his death. Both declined to provide further details.
The 7-foot-2-inch performer famously played the cable-chomping henchman who tussled with Roger Moore’s Bond in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me and 1979’s Moonraker. Bond quipped of the silent baddie: “His name’s Jaws. He kills people.”
Despite appearing in several other films and TV shows, such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Longest Yard, the role of Jaws was an iconic one Kiel could never escape.
I am totally distraught to learn of my dear friend Richard Kiel’s passing. We were on a radio programme together just a week ago. Distraught
— Sir Roger Moore (@sirrogermoore) September 11, 2014
“To this day, I go out in sunglasses and a hat because people will shout ‘Hey, Jaws!’ at me from across the street,” he told the Daily Mail earlier this year. “The only way I can explain it is that he’s like the Road Runner, which Coyote keeps trying to blow up, but he keeps going.”
Kiel’s other memorable roles included bullying golf spectator Mr. Larson in Happy Gilmore, lethal Dr. Loveless’s assistant Voltaire in The Wild, Wild West and extraterrestrial Kanamit in The Twilight Zone. He also reprised the character of Jaws for several James Bond video games and voiced the thug Vlad in the animated Disney film Tangled.
Born in Detroit, Kiel began appearing in TV shows and films in the 1960s, debuting in an episode of the Western series Laramie. He published an autobiography in 2002 titled Making It Big in the Movies.