According to The Hollywood Reporter, Richard Moll, best known as Bull Shannon on the original run of NBC’s Night Court, has died at the age of 80. According to his publicist, Moll’s death was peaceful and took place at his home in Big Bear Lake, California, on October 26. The beloved actor’s imposing figure belied his gentle spirit and kind demeanor, which endeared him to audiences and coworkers alike across the entertainment industry.
Richard Moll, famous for playing bailiff Bull Shannon on Night Court and voicing Two-Face in Batman: The Animated Series, has passed away.
Richard Moll’s biggest break came in part because of a change he had made to his appearance for a previous role. Arriving at the audition for the part of bailiff Aristotle Nostradamus “Bull” Shannon on Night Court, Moll had shaved his head to play Hurok in the 1983 film Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn. The producers liked the look and, as he told it in 2010, asked if he would be willing to shave his head for the Night Court role.
He said he would gladly shave his legs and armpits as well if it meant getting the part, which led to the indelible image of both Bull Shannon’s and Richard Moll’s famously hairless dome. On Night Court, Bull became a fan favorite—an endearingly dimwitted, occasionally brilliant, cartoonishly goofy, wholeheartedly loyal, and genuinely loving totem pole of a man who could still bring a rowdy courtroom to silence with one fearsome growl. Giving the bailiff modalities ranging from roaring bear to helpless puppy, Moll imbued the character with a humanity and dignity that shined through the silliness and stretched the boundaries of his deceptively simple conception.
Richard Moll was asked if he’d shave his head to play Bull, he famously said he’d shave his legs and armpits too if that’s what it took.
Standing 6′ 8″ tall, Richard Moll was often cast in parts that took advantage of his size. This led to him playing, among other things, a Yeti in the 1981 comedy Caveman, starring Ringo Starr and Barbara Bach. His imposing figure was intended to give the character of Bull Shannon something of a hard edge, but Moll believed something in his demeanor inspired the series’ producers to soften the character a great deal. Ultimately, he appeared in 192 of Night Court‘s 193 episodes, which ran from 1984 to 1992.
But Richard Moll was also known for his voice, which he lent to numerous productions, including playing Norman on Mighty Max and Harvey Dent/Two-Face in three different animated Batman series. His other live-action television work included a variety of iconic ’70s and ’80s TV series such as Welcome Back, Kotter; B.J. and the Bear; Happy Days; Laverne & Shirley; Mork & Mindy; Buck Rogers in the 25th Century; The Rockford Files; T.J. Hooker; Alice; and The Dukes of Hazzard.
With over 150 acting credits, Richard Moll had a long, successful career in Hollywood.
Born in Pasadena, California, on Jan. 13, 1943, Carles Richard Moll graduated from the University of California Berkeley in 1964, having majored in history and psychology. Before becoming famous for playing a bailiff, he had experience in law enforcement as an Alameda County Deputy probation officer, though he also sold ladies’ hosiery at a store in San Francisco. Though he struggled somewhat in his acting career from his start in 1968, by 1979, a part in a Happy Days episode helped land him roles in other series produced by Garry Marshall, which led to much more work in the industry.
In his spare time, Richard Moll enjoyed bird watching. Following his two marriages, both of which ended in divorce, his survivors include his children, Chloe and Mason, and his stepchildren, Cassandra and Morgan. He will be remembered fondly by those who loved and worked with him and by fans of his work around the world.