(August 9, 1927–August 28, 1978): Underrated British actor who portrayed ruthless SPECTRE assassin Donald Grant, one of 007’s deadliest adversaries, in From Russia with Love. With his dyed-blond crew cut, Charles Atlas physique, and definite psychotic edge, Shaw is brilliant in the role. Grant’s confrontation with Bond (Sean Connery) on the Orient Express is a masterful scene. After 007 insults him by asking from which lunatic asylum he’s escaped, Grant sneers, “Don’t make it tougher on yourself,” stands up, and slaps Bond hard across the face. This is one of the few moments in the series when you seriously wonder whether Bond is finished. He’s on his knees in a small train compartment, no friends in sight, looking down the barrel of a silenced automatic in the hands of a dangerous psychopath.
A native of Westhoughton, Lancashire, England, Shaw made his credited big-screen debut in director Michael Anderson’s World War II drama The Dam Busters (1955), working with future Bond players Patrick Barr (Octopussy), Laurence Naismith (Diamonds Are Forever), and George Baker (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service). Three years after playing Grant, Shaw was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his boisterous turn as Henry VIII in A Man for All Seasons (1966).
However, he’s best known as gritty shark hunter Quint in director Steven Spielberg’s iconic horror classic Jaws (1975), which features Quint’s memorable recollection of surviving the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. Shaw’s additional credits include Battle of the Bulge (1965), as crack Nazi tank brigade leader Colonel Hessler; Custer of the West (1967), as General George Armstrong Custer; Battle of Britain (1969); The Sting (1973), as ruthless gangster Doyle Lonnegan; The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974), as hostage-taking mercenary Bernard Ryder, a.k.a. Mr. Blue; Robin and Marian (1976), as the Sheriff of Nottingham, once again facing off against Sean Connery; Black Sunday (1977); The Deep (1977); and Force 10 from Navarone (1978), with fellow Bond veterans Barbara Bach and Richard Kiel.
Married three times with ten children, Robert Shaw died of a heart attack during the filming of Avalanche Express (1979). A successful novelist and playwright (The Man in the Glass Booth), he had suffered from alcoholism—a condition that perhaps contributed to his heart attack.