Welcome to my April A-Z! This month I will be posting about James Bond 007 every day except Sunday, mostly focusing on the movies, not the books. Enjoy!
Richard Dawson Kiel was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1939. He reached the extraordinary height of 7’2″ due to excess growth hormone. His family moved to California when he was 9 and he graduated from Baldwin Park High School. Richard held a bunch of odd jobs, including a cemetery plot salesman and math teacher, before he found his way into “the biz.” Naturally, he was often cast as the bad guy, including in the second episode of I Dream of Jeannie (1965), where he plays Ali in ancient Persia. But we are here today to focus on his iconic role as “Jaws” in the James Bond franchise. He was one of the few villains who showed up in more than one film
Richard first appeared as Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). He working as an assassin for baddie Karl Stromberg and was outfitted with special steel teeth to make him look extra-scary. Kiel said the teeth were hugely uncomfortable to wear. He doesn’t speak in the film, but he certainly smiles. Jaws was supposed to be killed by a shark after escaping from Stromberg’s ship before it was torpedoed, but he was so popular with the test audience that the producers decided to let him live. He played Jaws again in Moonraker (1979), where he was given a larger role.
In Moonraker, Jaws becomes more of a comedic figure than a ruthless killer, even though he still looks terrifying. There are some spoofy type fight scenes, where he’s clearly stronger than Roger Moore’s 007, but Bond overpowers him by zapping him in the teeth with a broken lamp. Silly but fun. Jaws is working for baddie Drax but turns against him and helps Bond defeat him. This is primarily motivated not by Bond’s persuasiveness but by Jaws’ new love interest ~ the blonde, pigtailed Dolly who also does not talk. In both films, Jaws survives ridiculous situations which would be fatal for any normal human, such as the aforementioned shark battle and also falling several thousand feet after he screws up his parachute (in Moonraker). He gets up and straightens his jacket in the same manner as Bond himself. At the end of Moonraker, Jaws and Dolly survive the collapse of Drax’s space station, and he gets one line. “Here’s to us,” Jaws says as he pops a bottle of champagne with his teeth. There were plans to bring Jaws back for a third Bond adventure, but that didn’t happen.
After Jaws, Richard Kiel had a few more roles, notably as Mr. Larson in Adam Sandler’s Happy Gilmore. He also co-authored a biography of the abolitionist CM Clay and published an autobiography as well. Kiel was a born-again Christian, which he said helped him overcome his alcoholism. He was married twice. Diane Rogers, his second wife, was only 5’1″ and they were married 40 years until Kiel’s death. With Diane, Kiel had 4 children and 9 grandchildren. He passed away in 2014 of a heart attack right before his 75th birthday.
Tune in tomorrow for more A-Z Bond!
Information and images from Wikipedia, Fandom, and Pinterest.
©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.