Birthday: September 13, 1939
Died At Age: 74
Sun Sign: Virgo
Also Known As: Richard Dawson Kiel
Born in: Detroit, Michigan
Famous as: Actor
Height: 2.18 m
Spouse/Ex-: Diane Rogers (m. 1974 – his death. 2014), Faye Daniels (m. 1960 – div. 1973)
children: Bennett Kiel, Christopher Kiel, Jennifer Kiel, Richard George Kiel
Died on: September 10, 2014
place of death: Fresno, California
City: Detroit, Michigan
Cause of Death: Heart Attack
U.S. State: Michigan
Richard Kiel was an American actor, voice over artist and comedian, best remembered for playing the role of metal-mouthed James Bond villain, Jaws, in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ and ‘Moonraker’. He is one of the few Bond villains to have appeared in more than one film of the franchise. His unique stature and glimmering teeth made him a henchman whose image was etched in the audience’s memory. In real life, Kiel was a gentle soul with a mischievous smile. He was born with acromegaly, a hormonal condition that can cause abnormal growth in the individual suffering from it. While his height proved to be advantageous in his film career, as he got many roles because of it, he also tried to attain a stature independent of it. He was often seen playing the roles of thugs and monsters in movies. Kiel also had several comic appearances in movies like ‘The Longest Yard’ and ‘Happy Gilmore’. Apart from working in cinema, Kiel also appeared in more than a hundred television shows, including ‘The Wild, Wild West’ and ‘Barbary Coast’.
Richard Kiel did many odd jobs before becoming an actor. He worked as a night club bouncer and cemetery plot salesman before Hollywood came calling. He started acting in 1960 and his earliest roles were in the TV shows ‘Klondike’ (1960) and ‘Laramie’ (1961). Kiel made his debut film appearance in the black and while military drama film ‘The D.I.’, wherein he appeared as an extra. He got his first credited role in the 1961 sci-fi movie ‘The Phantom Planet’, and was then seen in the horror movie ‘Eegah’ (1962). In the early 1960s, he also worked as a math instructor in a night school in Burbank, California for additional income. After appearing in a string of small movie and TV roles, he was finally noticed by the James Bond film producers who saw him on the TV show ‘Barbary Coast’ and cast him as a Bond villain in 1977. He was roped in to play the unstoppable steel-toothed henchman ‘Jaws’ in the James Bond movie ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ (1977). He then went on to reprised his role in another movie of the James Bond franchise called ‘Moonraker’ (1979).
Kiel’s other memorable films were ‘Force 10 From Navarone’ (1978) with Harrison Ford and ‘Pale Rider’ (1985) with Clint Eastwood. Due to his towering height, Kiel was often cast in villainous roles in films and television shows, and that resulted in him playing some very memorable screen roles. Throughout his acting career, he appeared in numerous television shows, including ‘Kolchak: The Night Stalker’ and ‘Barbary Coast’. Kiel co-wrote, produced and acted in the 1991 movie ‘The Giant of Thunder Mountain’. He then penned his autobiography titled ‘Making It Big in the Movies’ in 2002. Some of his last film works were in ‘The Corpse of Albert Cradette’ (2010), ‘The Awakened’ (2009) and ‘Tangled’ (2010). He reprised his role of ‘Jaws’ in the video game ‘James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing’ in 2004.
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Family & Personal Life
Richard Kiel was born on September 13, 1939, in Detroit, Michigan. He was born with acromegaly, a hormonal condition that can cause abnormal growth in the individual suffering from it. When he was eight years old, his family moved to Los Angeles, California, where his parents started running an appliance store. Kiel was enrolled at the ‘Baldwin Park High School’. After graduating from there, he did numerous odd jobs, such as working as a nightclub bouncer, cemetery plot salesman and door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. He started his acting career in 1960 and got several villainous roles because of his distinctive height. At 7 feet 1.5 inches, he was one of the tallest actors in Hollywood.
Kiel suffered from acrophobia (fear of heights) and refused to shoot on tall structures during stunt scenes. He met with an accident in 1992, which affected his balance. He then started using a walking stick and a battery-powered scooter to cover long distances. He married Faye Daniels in 1960, but the couple got divorced in 1973. In 1974, he married Diane Rogers, and they lived together until his death in 2014. The couple had three sons; Richard, Bennett and Christopher; and a daughter named Jennifer. He was a born-again Christian and reportedly, religious conversion helped him overcome alcohol addiction. Kiel sustained a leg injury in 2014, and was admitted to a hospital in Fresno, California for its treatment. While in hospital, he had a heart attack and died on September 10, 2014, just three days shy of turning 75.