Thursday, September 11, 2014

Richard "Jaws" Kiel was the Man


Richard Kiel jamesbondreview.filminspector.com
Richard Kiel in his signature role as "Jaws" in the Bond films

Actor Richard Kiel, who played "Jaws" in the James Bond films "Moonraker" and "The Spy Who Loved Me," passed away on 10 September 2014. He will be missed. I wrote up an entry on him a long time ago, he was a major part of the Bond franchise and always will be.

Richard Kiel jamesbondreview.filminspector.com


Kiel was scheduled to attend an autograph convention in early September 2014, but reports were that he had to cancel because he had broken his leg. I actually heard about that circuitously through the grapevine long before it became news around the world, because Lana Wood replaced him at the convention. That sounded a bit like a standard celebrity excuse for not attending an event they weren't feeling up to, and perhaps it was - in a very sad way. Apparently Kiel actually did break his leg, though whether that was related to his passing is uncertain and, now, kind of pointless to find out.

Richard Kiel jamesbondreview.filminspector.com
The fight scene on the funicular in "Moonraker" remains a classic. Kiel and Roger Moore actually were great friends.

He had a long career in show business. As he sometimes pointed out himself in wry fashion, he had been a working actor for 17 years when he became an "overnight star" in his first Bond film - which I always have said is my choice for best in the entire series, and remains so today. He reprised the role in "Moonraker," and came close to appearing in the next film as well until the producers decided at the last minute to go in another direction.

Richard Kiel jamesbondreview.filminspector.com
Yes, that is Richard Kiel with the bulbous head. Patty: [SPOILER] Mr. Chambers! Don't get on that ship! The rest of the book, "To Serve Man", it's - it's a cookbook!

While audiences tend to remember Kiel best from his appearances in the Bond films, his best role may have been in "The Twilight Zone." Everybody who is a fan of that show, or just likes classic old tv series, remembers the famous episode, "To Serve Man," in which an alien ship visits earth and promises all sorts of wonderful things if humans will travel to their home planet. Scenes of Kiel raising his head and laughing from that episode were heavily used in promotions for "The Twilight Zone" both during its initial run and later, when it went into heavy syndication during the 1970s and 1980s (I watched it on WPIX-11 in the NYC area, it was on every night when I was a kid it seemed). Well, wouldn't you know it - Richard Kiel played the aliens, including the principal Kanamit. His character had one famous line that has stood the test of time: "Please, Mr. Chambers, eat. We wouldn't want you to lose weight."

Richard Kiel jamesbondreview.filminspector.com
The end of Jaws in "Moonraker"

Reports from fans who saw Kiel at conventions always seemed to be positive. He was just a good, happy guy who understood how lucky he was to have played some of the iconic roles in television and film history - even if he constantly got confused with the characters he played. But that is a happy problem to have.

Richard Kiel jamesbondreview.filminspector.com


A native of Detroit, Michigan, Kiel had various physical difficulties during his later years, including a car accident. He wrote a biography in 2002, "Making it Big in the Movies, in which he revealed that his tall stature of 7’2” tall was due to acromegaly. He also had memorable roles in "Happy Gilmore" and "Tangled."

Richard Kiel jamesbondreview.filminspector.com
Kiel said that putting the metal teeth in was like swallowing a car bumper.

Kiel was happily married to Diane Rogers for forty years at the time of his passing and the father of four children.

Richard Kiel jamesbondreview.filminspector.com


In any event, we will always remember one of the great villains, one that current Bond producers are furiously trying to equal in terms of enduring impact. Fat chance, good luck with that. Richard Kiel was one of a kind and a credit to the franchise.

Richard Kiel jamesbondreview.filminspector.com

So long, Richard.



2017

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