Ever since being ostracized from Mrs. Applebaum’s Talent Cotillion, after deciding to belt out Patti Smith tunes while waving around a loaded nail gun (in my effort to win that much lauded kiddy show crown), I have felt a special kinship with all vagrant strewn outsiders and everyday freaks! As such, my favorite performers have been such against-the-norm characters as Skelton Knaggs, Laird Cregar, Rondo Hatton, Sydney Greenstreet, Victor Buono, Lock Martin and (of course) Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. Thus, while the celebrity strewn skies have been crying wildly, as of late, over such falling stars as Robin Williams and Joan Rivers, my true sadness occurred this week, with the passing of Richard Kiel (1939-2014).
Best known for his indelible etching of Bond villain Jaws, in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, Kiel played everything from cavemen (Eegah) to circus performers (House of the Damned) to space creatures (The Phantom Planet). Granted, his forte was henchman and baddies. But the fact that he played these roles in everything from major motion pictures (Silver Streak) to classic television shows (Thriller, I Spy, The Night Stalker, Twilight Zone) is surely evidence of the committed skill and enthusiasm that he brought to such roles. Nicely, comedies such as Happy Gilmore gave him a chance to show his gentler, sunnier side, as well.Most importantly, though, Kiel did not let his 7’4’’ height stop him from achieving his dreams. That, I believe, is the true lesson one can gain by reflecting on his life. No matter how awkward or socially miscast we all might feel, we only need to look to him to know that (almost) everything we want is surely within our reach.
So, thanks for that, Richard. You were one of kind and truly will be missed.
Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!