COARSEGOLD – A memorial service for actor and former foothills resident Richard Kiel is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 26, at Yosemite Lakes Community Church.
Richard Kiel passed away at St. Agnes Medical Center in Fresno on Sept. 10, just a few days shy of his 75th birthday.
The 7-foot-2 actor was perhaps best known for his portrayal of the assassin Jaws in two James Bond movies starring Roger Moore, and before that, a turn in The Twilight Zone as a giant space alien in the 1959 episode “To Serve Man.”
Kiel appeared in the Bond films The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979). He was also known for his role in Cannonball Run II (1984), and The Giant of Thunder Mountain (1991), a movie which the towering actor co-wrote.
Oakhurst resident Dave Wolin worked with Kiel on Cannonball Run II, and shared his memories:
“Always enjoyed working with Richard, a true professional in every sense of the word. I built the Mitsubishi’s used in Cannonball Run II,” recalls Wolin. “He was the navigator and Jackie Chan was the driver and we all had a great time on the set. I reconnected with him when I moved to Oakhurst, worked with him on small film projects and, of course, had him as a featured guest for the Southern Yosemite Automotive Film Festival. He will be missed by all of us.”
Kiel memorably portrayed Mr. Larson to a new generation of fans in the Adam Sandler flick Happy Gilmore (1996).
Kiel’s so-called “menacing frame” apparently belied the kind man known to his friends and family, and to the many people in the mountain area who mourn his passing. Kiel is survived by his wife Diane, four children, and nine grandchildren, according to Dignity Memorial.
Yosemite Lakes Community Church is located at 43840 Patrick Avenue in Coarsegold.