Celebrity Richard Kiel

Richard Kiel  the towering 7′ 2″ tall actor cornered the market on playing giants, intimidating henchman, bayou swamp monsters and steel toothed villains! Kiel worked in numerous jobs including as a night club bouncer and a cemetery plot salesman, before breaking into film & TV in several minor roles in the late 1950s / early 1960s. Noted amongst these was the alien “Kanamit” in the classic Twilight Zone (1959) episode “To Serve Man”, and terrorizing Arch Hall Jr. while clad in a loincloth in the prehistoric caveman meets virile teenage drama Eegah (1962).

Kiel turned up in two episodes of the classic horror TV series Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974). On one occasion playing a Native American evil spirit with the ability to transform into various animals. On his second appearance, Kiel was unrecognizable as a Spanish moss covered, Louisiana swamp monster brought to life by a patient involved in deep sleep therapy.

However, his biggest break came in 1977 when he was cast as the unstoppable, steel toothed henchman “Jaws” in the finest Roger Moore film of the Bond series The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). Such was Kiel’s popularity with movie audiences, that his character was brought back for the next Bond outing Moonraker (1979). However, audiences were quite split on opinions when Kiel’s “Jaws” character changes sides near the film’s conclusion and assists 007, Roger Moore, in saving the Earth.

Over the next few years, Kiel appeared in relatively non-demanding comedy or fantasy type films taking advantage of his physical stature and presence. Kiel then decided to try his hand behind the camera and co-wrote and produced, plus took the lead role, in the well received family movie The Giant of Thunder Mountain (1991). Demand for Kiel’s unique attributes dropped very sharply in the 1990’s, leading to only a handful of roles including reprising his “Jaws” character in the Matthew Broderick film Inspector Gadget (1999). In 2002, Kiel penned his informative autobiography entitled “Making it BIG in the movies”.

Richard Kiel died on September 10, in a Fresno, CA.  He was 74.

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