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Some actors were just not cut out to be dashing romantic leads:
Rondo Hutton, Sidney Greenstreet, Fernando Sancho, Victor Israel ...
Their faces, body size or other attributes made them perfect villains
or knock-off material to be killed, but never a leading pretty boy role.
Detroit's Richard Kiel, a giant in the true sense of the word, evidently
realized from the beginning he would be given a multitude of roles as
monsters, villains and freaks, due to his huge height and width. Though
it seems a bit far fetched (and maybe not) some magazines have listed
him as seven feet high.
Whatever his height, Kiel made early appearances, sometimes credited and
sometimes not, in a variety of monster films and monster spoofs. He
played a body builder in the original version of The Nutty Professor
(1963), a giant (now there's a surprise) in House of the Damned
(1963) and a caveman in the most forgettable film ever, titled Eegah!
(1962). He also played (uncredited) as the tall man at the funeral scene
in the haunted house flick, Two On A Guillotine (1965).
It was not til years later that he started to make a name for himself,
most notably as Jaws, the repeatedly menacing villain in varied James
Bond films (The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977 and Moonraker
in 1979). A monster of a man, with brute strength and metal teeth, this
role led him to international recognition and perhaps a bit of
typecasting he was not ever to totally shake. He still makes the
convention circuits today, where more often than not he is billed on the
advertisements as Jaws rather than by his real name.
Kiel also played the gangsterish Mr Eddie, a nightclub owner in So
Fine (1981). This was another fairly forgettable film, with Kiel
providing some of the few redeeming moments in the production. Even an
Ennio Morricone score didn't do much for this at the box office. Yet in
spite of the film's flaws, he was able to show a convincingly different
side to his acting ability, as a funny, rather than frightening villain.
In Clint Eastwood's Pale Rider (1985), he was even more
interesting as the muscleman for the corrupted rich mining magnate.
Starting off in what seemed to be a typical Kiel role as giant thug, he
turned around when bested by Clint Eastwood in a fight. He later turns good
and saves Eastwood's life during a shootout at the mining camp, when he
prevents him from being ambushed.
For more on this actor, visit http://www.richardkiel.com
which will tell you far more about this man than this short article is
The webpage has varied photos, ways to contact the actor, merchandise
for sale, convention dates and film news.
Kiel has, in recent years, taken a turn toward religion and appeared on
a number of Christian talk shows. He has also taken to writing.
As for myself, my favorite Kiel role would not be that of Jaws,
but as Captain Howdy (the name is a spoof on the demon/ghost working the
ouija board in The Exorcist, with the soon-to-be-possessed Linda
Blair). This role came in the little known film, Hysterical
(1983, by Chris Bearde), a vehicle designed to push the comedy team of The
Hudson Brothers as Raiders Of the Lost Arc/Ghost Hunter
comedians, but never really brought them to stardom like they had hoped.
In this comedy which spoofs the aforenoted Exorcist, as well as Dracula,
Friday The 13th and many other movies, Kiel's Captain Howdy is a
zombie, a long dead lighthouse keeper on an Oregon coastal town.
While it received a good deal of air play on cable tv in the 1980s, it
seems somewhat hard to find now.
In any case, Richard Kiel remains one of the most prolific big men to
contribute his part to screen history.