Friday, July 19

Richard Moll, Towering Bailiff on ‘Night Court,’ Dies at 80

Richard Moll, the 6-foot-8 actor who delighted television audiences with a childlike charm in his role as the hulking bailiff on the NBC sitcom “Night Court,” died on Thursday at his home in Big Bear Lake, Calif. He was 80.

His death was announced by a family spokesman, Jeff Sanderson. No cause was given.

In a career of more than four decades, Mr. Moll played a variety of roles on television shows and in films. But he was best known for portraying the baldheaded, wide-eyed Aristotle Nostradamus Shannon, better known as Bill, on all nine seasons of “Night Court,” which ran from 1984 to 1992.

Credit…Kathy Hutchins/Hutchins Photo Agency, via Associated Press

Bull Shannon’s dimwitted persona lent an air of lighthearted innocence to the series, which was set inside a fictional municipal night court in Manhattan. It starred Harry Anderson, who died in 2018, as Judge Harry Stone and John Larroquette as the prosecutor Dan Fielding.

Mr. Moll was “larger than life and taller too,” Mr. Larroquette said on Friday in a post on X, the site formerly known as Twitter.

Richard Charles Moll was born on Jan. 13, 1943, in Pasadena, Calif., to Harry and Violet Moll. He graduated with a degree in history from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1964. His father wanted him to pursue a law career, but she to took up acting instead.

He initially worked in theater, performing in Shakespeare plays in California. He got his first television and film roles in the late 1970s; his early roles included Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in “Brigham,” a 1977 movie about Brigham Young, and an appearance in an episode of the television series “Welcome Back, Kotter” in 1978.

“Probably auditioning for ‘Night Court’ would be my first big break,” Mr. Moll said in a 2010 interview with MaximoTV. He noted that he had been asked if he was willing to shave his head for the part.

“I said ‘Are you kidding?’ ” he recalled. “‘I’ll shave my legs for the part. I’ll shave my armpits. I don’t care.’”

After “Night Court” ended in 1992, Mr. Moll went on to do voice-over work on various cartoons, including roles as Two-Face, a disturbed villain with a disfigured mug on the “Adventures of Batman & Robin” on Fox, and as Scorpion, one of the many adversaries on “Spider-Man: The Animated Series,” on the same network.

Though largely known for his comedic work, including in movies such as “Scary Movie 2” and “But I’m a Cheerleader,” Mr. Moll was also featured in horror and science-fiction films. His first major movie roles included the 1985 horror feature “House” and the 1986 indie fantasy “The Dungeonmaster.”

Mr. Moll worked as an actor and voice-over artist as late as 2018, according to IMDb. His final notable appearance was in the 2010 live-action film “Scooby-Doo: Curse of the Lake Monster,” in which he played the mysterious lighthouse keeper Elmer Uggins.

Mr. Moll retired to Big Bear Lake in the Southern Californian mountains, where, according to his family, he reveled in the idyllic scenery and exercised his love of bird-watching.

He is survived by a daughter, Chloe Moll; a son, Mason Moll; his ex-wife, Susan Moll; and two stepchildren, Cassandra Card and Morgan Ostling.