Richard Kiel dead: Bond villain who played Jaws passes away aged 74

The actor was however most famous for his role in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker

Actor Richard Kiel, most famous for his role as towering Bond villain Jaws, has died aged 74 in California.

The American actor, who starred in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979), died in hospital in Fresno on Wednesday. The hospital have not released the cause of death, citing client confidentiality.

Mr Kiel, who measured 7ft 2in, was born in Detroit and made in small screen debut in 1960. He was also cast as a Mr Lawson in Adam Sandler’s golf comedy Happy Gilmore (1996) and voiced another villain for animated film Tangled (2010).

He made his name as Jaws, starring opposite Roger Moore, despite initially thinking the part was “over the top”.

“I was very put off by the description of the character and I thought, well, they don't really need an actor, he's more a monster part," he said during BBC Radio 4’s programme The Reunion.

“I want[ed] to give the character some human characteristics, like perseverance, frustration." Although the character of Jaws was supposed to be eaten by a shark in the finale of The Spy Who Loved Me, audiences loved Mr Kiel as Jaws so much he was brought back to reprise the role in Moonraker.

"That was one of the big moments for me, watching the blue-collar screening of the movie, The Spy Who Loved Me, and having the reaction of the crowd at the theatre when Jaws popped out of the ocean, survived and swam away. There were hoots and howling, applause. I couldn't believe it."

During filming Roger Moore’s stunt agent reportedly had to step in for Mr Kiel during high scenes – as the giant actor was himself afraid of heights.

Steve Stevens, Mr Kiels agent described his client: “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”.

Mr Kiel remained active on the autograph circuit for avid Bond fans, having taken a step back from acting after an accident left him with walking difficulties a few years ago.

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