Richard Kiel Dies at 74; Played Jaws in Bond Films

Richard Kiel's passing with health issues reminds us of the need to plan early for health issues as part of our retirement planning.

Recommend This Page
Richard Kiel Dies at 74; Played Jaws in Bond Films
5 Min Read June 24th, 2015 Updated:January 29th, 2024

Celebrated for his unmistakable presence and memorable roles as formidable characters and extraterrestrials, Richard Kiel rose to stardom with his iconic portrayal of Jaws—a metal-toothed assassin in two James Bond films. Kiel's remarkable journey in the world of cinema came to an end in 2014 when he passed away at the age of 74.


In 1992, Kiel suffered a severe head injury in a car accident, which impacted his balance. He relied on a cane, as seen in his appearance in Happy Gilmore, or a scooter for mobility in later years, a noticeable change from his onscreen presence as the imposing Jaws. 


Later in life, Kiel utilized a scooter or wheelchair for mobility. Despite the challenges, Kiel remained active in Hollywood, showcasing his versatility in various film and television projects. He embraced memorable roles like the villainous Vulkan in "Happy Gilmore" and lent his voice to animated characters like Professor Owl in "Tangled." His dedication to his craft and charisma garnered him continued respect and admiration throughout his career. 

Kiel's Struggle with Acromegaly: Beyond the Jaws Legacy


While primarily remembered for his iconic portrayal of Jaws in the James Bond films, actor Richard Kiel also battled a chronic and life-threatening illness: Acromegaly. This rare condition deeply impacted his life and health, adding another layer to his story beyond the silver screen.


Understanding Acromegaly


Acromegaly is a hormonal disorder caused by the pituitary gland's overproduction of growth hormone (GH). This excess GH leads to elevated levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which triggers abnormal growth in bones and soft tissues. While often associated with gigantism in childhood, acromegaly typically develops in adulthood, affecting adults between 30-50 years old.


Kiel's Journey


Kiel lived with acromegaly for many years. This condition likely contributed to his characteristic physical features, including his large hands, prominent jaw, and deep voice.


Symptoms and Long-Term Risks


Beyond physical changes, acromegaly carries several debilitating symptoms and potential health complications. Kiel might have experienced:


  • Headaches: A common symptom due to pressure from an enlarged pituitary gland.
  • Excessive sweating: Increased metabolic activity resulting in higher body temperature.
  • Soft tissue swelling: Fluid retention leading to enlarged hands, feet, and facial features.
  • Joint disorders: Cartilage degeneration contributing to pain and stiffness.
  • Sleep apnea: Obstructed airways due to enlarged facial bones and soft tissues.
  • Cardiac issues: Increased risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.
  • Respiratory problems: Sleep apnea and potential airway narrowing can affect breathing.
  • Diabetes: Impaired insulin sensitivity leading to elevated blood sugar levels.
  • Certain cancers: Increased risk of colorectal cancer and others.


Left untreated, acromegaly significantly elevates the risk of premature death, primarily due to cardiovascular complications and other associated health issues. However, early diagnosis and proper treatment can improve quality of life and life expectancy.


Kiel's dedication to his craft despite the challenges of acromegaly serves as an inspiration. He continued to act well into his later years, adapting his physical limitations seamlessly into various roles.


Benefited Acting Career


Kiel's imposing stature and enlarged bones in his hands, feet, and face contributed to his signature look, which he utilized to portray menacing characters and add a touch of comedy. His acting breakthrough came in 1974 with "The Longest Yard," where he played a weightlifting, crybaby inmate. Kiel went on to act in films such as "Silver Streak," "Jaws," "The Spy Who Loved Me," and "Moonraker."


Encouraged by a movie-loving aunt, Kiel began his acting career in the early 1960s with roles in the Western series "Laramie" and "The Rifleman." In 1962, he appeared in the classic "Twilight Zone" episode "To Serve Man" as a duplicitous alien visitor. Kiel also guest-starred on various TV series, including "Lassie," "Gilligan's Island," "I Dream of Jeannie," "Honey West," "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," "The Monkees," and "I Spy."


Health Changes Lead to Long-Term Health Care


As we age, health issues become more prevalent and can necessitate assistance with daily living activities. Considering the high long-term health care costs and the burden placed on family members, preparing for these eventualities before retirement is crucial. Addressing these concerns in advance ensures a secure and well-planned retirement.


Imbalance and falls are common issues that arise as people age, experience illness, or encounter accidents. Richard Kiel serves as just one of many examples of how imbalance can create challenges in daily life.  


Like Kiel, countless older adults face similar challenges as they navigate aging, with various factors contributing to their risk of imbalance and falls.


Aging and Changes in Health, Body, and Mind


Aging naturally brings about changes in our bodies, making us more susceptible to imbalance and falls. Factors such as reduced muscle mass, decreased bone density, and vision changes can all increase the likelihood of these incidents. Additionally, conditions like arthritis, osteoporosis, and neurological disorders can exacerbate these risks, making it even more difficult for older adults to maintain stability and prevent falls.


Accidents, like the one experienced by Kiel, can lead to lasting consequences that affect a person's ability to remain steady on their feet. Illness and accidents can also significantly impact an individual's balance and increase the risk of falls. For instance, those recovering from a stroke or dealing with chronic illnesses such as Parkinson's may find it harder to maintain balance.


The repercussions of imbalance and falls can be severe, often leading to injuries, loss of independence, and a decreased quality of life. In some cases, the injuries sustained from a fall can result in the need for long-term care or assistance with daily activities. This places a financial burden on individuals and their families and adds emotional stress as the person must adapt to their new circumstances.


LTC Insurance and Quality Care


Those with Long-Term Care Insurance can use their benefits to pay for their choice of care services, including in-home care. Some LTC policies will also pay for home modifications and medical alert systems, making it easier to remain at home. However, you cannot purchase a policy when you need care. Most people get coverage in their 40s or 50s while enjoying good health. However, those in their 60s and beyond can find affordale options depending on their health.


Preventing imbalance and falls is crucial for maintaining the health and well-being of older adults. This can be achieved through regular exercise to improve strength, flexibility, and balance, as well as regular check-ups with healthcare providers to manage chronic conditions. 


Home modifications, such as installing grab bars and eliminating tripping hazards, can also help create a safer environment for those at risk of falls.

In conclusion, the challenges faced by Richard Kiel due to his imbalance serve as a reminder that aging, illness, and accidents can significantly impact our lives. By being proactive about our health and taking preventive measures, we can minimize the risks of imbalance and falls, helping to maintain independence and overall quality of life as we age.


Famous or not, chronic health conditions, mobility issues, or the gradual frailty that comes with age are things that happen. Suddenly, simple daily tasks like dressing, bathing, or managing medications become overwhelming. And if dementia enters the picture, constant supervision and specialized care become crucial.


LTC Insurance is an affordable way to address the consequences of aging. 

Recommend This Page

About the Author

An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

LTC News Contributor James Kelly

James Kelly

Contributor since August 21st, 2017

Editor's Note

As you age, the prospect of requiring long-term care can bring concerns for both you and your family. However, there's a solution many are exploring to address this worry – Long-Term Care Insurance. Think of it as a protective shield that can safeguard your financial and emotional well-being, sparing your loved ones from the burden of becoming caregivers and allowing them to continue being family.

Long-Term Care Insurance can play a pivotal role in providing the financial means to access quality care tailored to the specific needs of the aging individual. An LTC policy offers guaranteed tax-free funds and serves as a form of asset protection, ensuring that the cost of care does not deplete the individual's savings and assets.

The ideal time to consider getting coverage is in your 40s or 50s, although depending on your health, affordable options exist for those in their 60s and beyond.

Locate a Competent LTC Insurance Specialist 

When shopping for Long-Term Care Insurance, use a qualified LTC Insurance specialist who represents the top-rated insurance companies. 

Find a Qualified, Independent LTC Insurance Specialist. They will match you with the most affordable options based on age, health, and other factors.  


Long-Term Care Insurance premiums vary dramatically, as do the underwriting rules each company has in place. Once a specialist gathers detailed information about your health and finances, they will show you accurate quotes from all the top companies offering long-term care solutions. 

Find Quality Care Near You

Discover high-quality care by utilizing the LTC NEWS Caregiver Directory, which offers access to over 80,000 providers across the country. You can search for providers based on your location and the type of care services you require. It is free and the largest and most comprehensive directory of its kind in the United States - Long-Term Care Directory | Find Care Near You.

Don't wait. When a loved one experiences the peace of mind that comes with quality care, it brings happiness to the entire family.

Benefits for Your Website and Business - LTC NEWS

LTC NEWS offers an assortment of marketing and advertising options to help you reach your target audience. Our sponsored content articles are a highly effective way to drive traffic to your website, increase brand awareness, improve SEO, and build relationships with potential customers.

Benefits of Sponsored Content on LTC NEWS 

  • Drives website traffic: Sponsored content articles are placed on LTC NEWS's homepage and other high-traffic website areas, ensuring that a large audience sees your message.
  • Increases brand awareness: Sponsored content articles are written in a way that educates and engages readers, helping to position your brand as a thought leader in your industry.
  • Connects with target audience: LTC NEWS's audience is made up of people who are interested in long-term care, making it a great way to reach potential customers who are already considering your products or services.
  • Improves SEO: Sponsored content articles are written in a way that is optimized for search engines, helping to improve your website's ranking in search results.

Learn more about how LTC NEWS can help market your business, drive traffic, and improve SEO - Advertise With Us | LTC News.

LTC NEWS: Share Your News with Us

LTC NEWS is a leading website for news and information about aging, caregiving, health, lifestyle, long-term care, and retirement planning. We are always looking for new stories to share with our readers. 

If your group, organization, business, or political committee has news to share, we encourage you to submit a press release to us.


You can submit your press release - 


LTC News Trusted & Verified

Work With a Trusted Specialist

Get Accurate Long-Term Care Insurance Quotes

  • Has substantial experience in Long-Term Care Insurance
  • Strong understanding of underwriting, policy design, and claims experience
  • Represents all or most of all the leading insurance companies
man and woman sitting at desk
  • Latest

  • Oldest

  • Homecare

  • Health

  • Government

  • Care Facilities

  • Pets

  • People

  • Lifestyle

  • Insurance

No Results - Try refining your search

Step 1 of 4

Find a Specialist

Get Started Today

Trusted & Verified Specialists

Work with a trusted Long-Term Care Insurance Specialist Today

  • Has substantial experience in Long-Term Care Insurance
  • A strong understanding of underwriting, policy design, and claims experience
  • Represents all or most of all the leading insurance companies

LTC News Trusted & Verified

Compare Insurers