The towering actor who played the mercenary assassin Jaws in a pair of Roger Moore-era 007 movies and the enigmatic alien in one of the most famous episodes of The Twilight Zone died today. Richard Kiel would have turned 75 on Saturday. His agent of 35 years, Steven Stevens Sr, told Deadline that Kiel died this afternoon at St. Agnes Medical Center in Fresno, CA. The 7-foot-2 actor with the crooked smile got his start in early-1060s TV, appearing in such series as Laramie, Thriller and The Rifleman. He appeared in the 1962 sci-fi feature The Phantom Planet before landing the chilling Twilight Zone role. In “To Serve Man,” he played a representative of an advanced, giant alien race called the Kanamits, who alight on Earth amid what seems to be peace and good will. Kiel delivers a mysterious encrypted book to a meeting of the United Nations, and the episode soars from there.
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The actor probably is best known for his over-the-top — though not by Bond standards — villain Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979). Blessed and/or cursed with metal teeth that could bite through just about anything, he gave Moore’s Bond major headaches as he pursued the spy through Egypt, England and Brazil before ultimately seeing the error of his criminal ways. He also had a memorable role in the 1974 Burt Reynolds flick The Longest Yard playing Samson, an inmate who clotheslines a prison guard during their football game and utters the oft-repeated line, “I think I broke his f—in’ neck!”
The Detroit native enjoyed a long career on the big and small screens. He appeared in episodes of such classic series as Lassie, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Gilligan’s Island, The Monkees, I Spy, It Takes A Thief, The Wild Wild West, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Starsky & Hutch, The Fall Guy and Simon & Simon. Kiel was one of the original actors tapped to play the title role on The Incredible Hulk in 1977; he worked on the pilot before the producers settled on Lou Ferrigno for the character. By then, Kiel was mostly making movies. He had roles in a pair of 1976 comedies: Disney’s mule-plays-football romp Gus and the Gene Wilder-Richard Pryor pic Silver Streak. He later appeared in such films as Phoenix (1983), Cannonball Run II (1984) and Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider (1985). A decade later, Kiel turned up in the Adam Sandler golf comedy Happy Gilmore, playing the title character’s gold club-bending former boss Mr. Larson. In 2007, he starred with Verne “Mini-Me” Troyer in the Swedish reality series Welcome To Sweden. He also voiced the villainous Vlad in the 2010 Disney toon Tangled.
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