Richard Kiel, Jaws actor from James Bond, dies aged 74

Richard Kiel

The actor Richard Kiel, famous for playing the steel-toothed villain Jaws in James Bond films, has died at the age of 74.

Kiel died at Saint Agnes medical centre in Fresno, California, the hospital confirmed without giving further details, citing patient confidentiality.

TMZ said the towering 7ft 2in (218cm) character actor died a week after breaking his leg – it was not immediately known if the death was related to this.

Kiel was one of the most memorable villains in two of Roger Moore’s best Bond films, The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977 and Moonraker in 1979. He was also cast as Mr Larson in Adam Sandler’s 1996 golf comedy Happy Gilmore, and voiced the villain Vlad in 2010’s animated princess tale Tangled.

Kiel, who was born in Detroit, made his small screen debut in a 1960 Laramie episode called Street of Hate.

According to his movie database entry he was working as a bouncer at a Los Angeles nightclub before being recruited by Arch Hall for the lead role in Eegah (1962), about teens who stumble across a rampaging prehistoric caveman. Between acting jobs and writing screenplays he also worked as a cemetery plot salesman and night school maths tutor.

He was tapped to play the green monster in the television series The Incredible Hulk but was deemed not “bulky” enough and swiftly replaced with Lou Ferrigno. Kiel was reportedly relieved because he only had sight in one eye and the full contact lenses required by the role bothered him.

The database said he turned down the role of Darth Vader in order to play Jaws, which he felt offered greater acting potential since the character was not encased in a mask.

Moore’s stunt-double reportedly also filled in for Kiel because he was afraid of heights.

“He was a very loyal friend and client for over 35 years, a terrific husband and father, and was not only a giant actor but a giant man,” said Steve Stevens, Kiel’s agent.

Stevens said Kiel had taken a step back from acting after he was involved in a truck accident several years ago and was faced with walking difficulties. He remained active on the autograph circuit for avid Bond fans.

The accident forced him to walk with a cane and later he used a motorised wheelchair. His website said his current project was Cassius Clay, about a 19th century crusader against slavery.

Kiel’s television credits include roles in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in 1964, The Wild Wild West in 1965 and Barbary Coast in 1975.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles, for theguardian.com on Thursday 11th September 2014 03.14 Europe/London

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