Super-tall actor Richard Kiel has died at the age of 74. Kiel became famous for playing the steel-teeth henchman “Jaws” in two James Bond film adventures, the very good “The Spy who Loved Me” (1977), and the so-so space adventure follow-up, “Moonraker” (1979).
To remind readers, this latter fantastical adventure involved secret launch sites and space stations, stolen space shuttles and laser battles. Moonraker’s main plot has hero secret agent 007 trying to stop a megalomaniac space billionaire intent on killing off mankind with a poison derived from strain of orchid inside glassware re-entry vehicles. The villain is called Hugo Drax – apparently the best space billionaire megalomaniacs tend to have first and surnames having four letters a piece – and his character, along with a scene in which our hero nearly gets incinerated in a rocket flame trench, are about the only parts of Ian Fleming’s excellent and more realistic book that make it into the movie. Still, at least Kiel’s usually malevolent “Jaws” character is good. As such, for the entertainment he gave us, we salute him and we give our condolences to Richard Kiel’s family and friends.
We also say a sad goodbye to veteran actor, Sir Donald Sinden, who has passed away at the age of 90. As an actor with a famously plummy enunciation, he starred in some of the best war films of the 1950s including: “The Cruel Sea” (1953) and “Above us the Waves” (1955) as well as in the popular gentle comedies, “Doctor in the House” (1954) and “Rockets Galore” (1957) aka “Mad Little Island”.
This latter film was a sort of follow up to the 1949 Ealing comedy “Whisky Galore“, and involved a whimsical story set on a rocket testing site on a Scottish island.
Sinden starred in many other films,TV shows and plays including working with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Sinden was married with two sons and grandchilden and lived long enough to see a great grand child born. However he had to suffer the personal tragedy of watching his actor son Jeremy die of cancer nearly two decades before his own death. His wife Diana Mahony later died of cancer in 2004. We give our condolences to Donald Sinden’s family and friends.
Post script: It is also a sad goodbye to this writer’s cat, Lucky, whose luck finally ran out this week. He wasn’t a space cat, just a nice one and a friend.