Veteran character actor Richard Kiel passed away yesterday at a medical center in Fresno, California. The exact details of his passing have not been revealed at this time, although it is being reported that he suffered a broken leg about a week ago.
He was 74 years old.
Personally I am most fond of his goofy caveman movie Eegah, as it is featured in one of my favorite Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes, but I also have good memories of Happy Gilmore because my friends and I rented and watched it about 400 times back in our teenage days (don't judge).
From the accounts I've read, from colleagues and fans, Richard Kiel was an immensely nice guy who was warm, funny, and sweet. The only thing intimidating about him was his stature. Big guy, big heart, all that stuff. It's a bummer he's gone.
RIP, Kiel, ya big lug.
One of Richard Kiel's earliest performances was as the sad-looking Solarite in The Phantom Planet (1961)
Kiel really entered the pop culture landscape with his role of Kanamit from "To Serve Man," one of the best Twilight Zone episodes (1962)
Reportedly Kiel was working as a bouncer at a nightclub in L.A. when Arch Hall. Sr. saw him and offered him the titular role in Eegah (1962). The scene where Roxy shaves Eegah's face is amongst the strangest ever.
Also, watch out for snakes!
The Human Duplicators (1965)
Kiel, monkeying around in 1967
The Longest Yard (1974)
Silver Streak (1976)
Kiel was originally cast in The Incredible Hulk TV show (1977) before being deemed not bulky enough and replaced by Lou Ferrigno. They filmed exactly one shot.
Not wanting to hide behind a mask, Richard Kiel turned down the role of Darth Vader to take on the villainous henchman Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)...
...The character proved so popular, he returned for Moonraker (1979)
Kiel and Jackie Chan on the set of Cannonball Run II (1984)
Pale Rider (1985)
Happy Gilmore (1996)
"To be loved is important, as is having a sense of accomplishment, but to love is equally important in life especially when it is combined with taking action to do something for someone else to make their life better."
Richard Kiel, 1939-2014