Arts | Bond actor Richard Kiel dies

Image: Eon Productions

The towering 7ft 2in American actor, best known for playing the Bond villain Jaws has died in hospital aged 74, a week after breaking his leg. It is not yet known if the death is related to the incident.

Most famous for starring in two Roger Moore Bond films, The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977 and Moonraker in 1979, Kiel also starred in the Adam Sandler film Happy Gilmore, and most recently provided the voice of Vladimir in Disney’s Tangled.

He will however undoubtedly be remembered most for his role as Jaws, the steel-toothed villain who absolutely terrified me as a child. He was a huge, looming presence and although named as a villain, he really was more of a henchman to the main bad guy. Not having the obligatory death scene reserved for the Bond villain, he was able to return, and not for the first time in a Bond film his villainous moral conscience was allowed to develop. In Moonraker, Jaws switches sides and helps Bond defeat Drax, and even gets himself a girlfriend named Dolly, who speaks just as little as he does. Although it was not the first time a Bond character has switched sides there was something different about Jaws, who became a fan favourite, and Kiel was in demand for fan conventions and signings for the rest of his life. Maybe it was his Kiel’s gentle giant persona that shone through, despite the metal teeth that could easily rip through a neck. He gave Jaws human characteristics, making sure he wasn’t just another brainless henchman who did the villain’s work without asking any questions.

Whatever it was he brought to the role that made Jaws so popular, Richard Kiel was himself a gentle soul who was good friends with Sir Roger Moore himself, and will be remembered as one of the most iconic Bond villains of all time.

Beth Galey

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