Richard Moll, the fun-loving actor who portrayed the towering and tenderhearted bailiff Aristotle Nostradamus “Bull” Shannon on all nine seasons of the popular NBC sitcom Night Court during its original run, has died. He was 80.
Moll died peacefully Thursday at his home in Big Bear Lake, California, a family spokesperson announced.
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Suitable for his 6-foot-8 frame, Moll played an abominable snowman alongside Ringo Starr and Barbara Bach in the comedy feature Caveman (1981), and he was a scary, decomposing Vietnam veteran in the horror film House (1986).
Moll also did lots of voiceover work, with a regular gig as the immortal bodyguard Norman on the syndicated series Mighty Max and turns as Harvey Dent/Two-Face for three Batman cartoons.
Moll had a shaved head — he did that to play the warrior Hurok in the sci-fi film Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn (1983) — when he auditioned for the role of Shannon on Night Court, created by Reinhold Weege.
“They said ‘Richard, the shaved head looks good. Will you shave your head for the part?” he recalled in a 2010 interview. “I said, ‘Are you kidding? I’ll shave my legs for the part. I’ll shave my armpits, I don’t care.'”
With Night Court being nominated three times for the Emmy for outstanding comedy series, Moll came up with a catchphrase — “Oooo-kay” — as he appeared on all but one of the show’s 193 episodes from 1984-92 alongside the likes of Harry Anderson, John Larroquette, Charlie Robinson and Markie Post.
Moll was not involved with the Larroquette-toplined Night Court reboot that returned to NBC for the 2022-23 season.
Charles Richard Moll was born in Pasadena on Jan. 13, 1943. His mother, Violet, was a nurse and his father, Harry, a lawyer.
A history and psychology major at the University of California at Berkeley, he graduated in 1964, then worked as a deputy probation officer in Alameda County and in ladies’ hosiery at a store in San Francisco.
He came to Los Angeles in 1968 to pursue acting but found the going tough at first. He got to play a cannibal in a Hertz commercial opposite Don Adams and then Joseph Smith in a 1977 biopic about Brigham Young before landing parts in episodes of Welcome Back, Kotter, and The Rockford Files.
In 1979, Moll was cast as a gangster in the two-part Happy Days episode “Fonzie’s Funeral,” and that led to appearances on two other Garry Marshall-created shows, Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy.
He filled out his résumé with work in films including Hard Country (1981) and Ralph Bakshi’s American Pop (1981) and on such TV shows as The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo, B.J. and the Bear, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, T.J. Hooker, Alice and The Dukes of Hazzard before landing on Night Court.
Bull was going to be “very hard-edged,” he told People magazine in 2003, “but I think they saw something in me to make him a lot softer.” At the Manhattan Municipal Criminal Court, his character sweetly bonded with female bailiffs Selma Hacker (Selma Diamond, who died between seasons two and three), Flo Kleiner (Florence Halop, who died between seasons three and four) and Roz Russell (Marsha Warfield).
Moll also played himself in 1987 on a two-part episode of NBC’s The Facts of Life and recurred as The Drifter on the 1999-2002 Nickelodeon comedy 100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd.
He also showed up on Highlander, Babylon 5, Married … With Children and Anger Management and in the films The Flintstones (1994), But I’m a Cheerleader (1999) and Scary Movie 2 (2001).
An avid bird watcher and nature lover, Moll was married and divorced twice; his second wife, Susan, was a daughter of Milton Berle’s third and last wife, Lorna Adams. Survivors also include his children, Chloe and Mason, and his stepchildren, Cassandra and Morgan.
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