Richard Kiel, James Bond villain 'Jaws,' is dead

The actor who played Jaws, the indestructible James Bond villain, has died.

Richard Kiel, who towered as the iconic villain in 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me and in 1979's Moonraker, died on Wednesday afternoon at age 74, his longtime representative confirmed to USA TODAY.

"A giant man has now left the stage," said Steve Stevens, his talent agent for more than 35 years. "Richard Kiel was a giant talent, a great family man and he was also a giant friend."

Stevens would not specify the cause of death, only to say it was "natural causes." The website TMZ.com originally broke the news, stating that the actor had broken his leg last week and was in a Fresno, Calif., hospital.

The 7-foot-2 actor portrayed a multitude of characters during his 50-year acting career. But none was more famous than Jaws, the steel-toothed Bond hitman trying to kill 007 (Roger Moore).

"It was that combination of humor, his incredible real size and the fact that he just wouldn't die that made him so great," said Bill Desowitz, the author of James Bond Unmasked. "He was one of the greatest Bond adversaries there was."

The actor also starred in the Adam Sandler golf film Happy Gilmore, Voltaire in The Wild, Wild West, the giant alien Kanamit in The Twilight Zone and voiced the villain Vlad in 2010's Tangled.

Despite the fearsome characters he played, Kiel loved to interact with his own fans, said Stevens.

"His fans loved him and he loved them right back," said Stevens. "He was so sensitive and so caring for this huge man who played this villain."

On Wednesday, the Kiel family posted a message on Richard "Jaws" Kiel's Facebook page.

"It is with heavy hearts that we announce that Richard has passed away, just three days shy of his 75th birthday. Richard had an amazing joy for life and managed to live every single day to the fullest," the message read. "Though most people knew of him through his screen persona, those who were close to him knew what a kind and generous soul he was."

"It is nice to think that he can, once again, stand tall over us all," the message said.


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