He Showed Up Bald for Night Court Audition, Got the Part

Richard Moll, bailiff 'Bull' Shannon on '80s sitcom, is dead at 80
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2023 7:00 AM CDT
Richard Moll, 'Bull' From Night Court , Dead at 80
Richard Moll arrives at the 2010 TV Land Awards at Sony Studios in Culver City, California, on April 17, 2010.   (Kathy Hutchins/Hutchins Photo via AP)

Aristotle Nostradamus Shannon isn't exactly a household name, but for much of the '80s, Bull Shannon was. The latter was the nickname of the lovable bailiff character on the sitcom Night Court, which ran from 1984 to 1992 on NBC—and now, sad news on the actor who played him. The AP reports that Richard Moll is dead at the age of 80, with a family spokesperson noting he died peacefully Thursday at home in Big Bear Lake, California.

A native of Pasadena, California, Moll was a history and psychology major at UC Berkeley before heading off to Los Angeles to pursue acting, per The Hollywood Reporter. Early work included small roles in such TV shows as Welcome Back, Kotter and The Rockford Files, followed by appearances in Garry Marshall sitcoms like Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, and Mork & Mindy. Moll also took on minor movie roles, including in 1981's Hard Country. It was his role as Night Court's Bull Shannon, however, that put Moll on the map, with his towering 6-foot-8-inch stature, goofy grin, and catchphrase "Ohh-kay," delivered with a slap to his forehead, per USA Today.

In a 2010 interview, Moll noted how he'd showed up bald for his Night Court audition because he'd just played the part of warrior Hurok in 1983's Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn—and that the producers had liked it. "[They] said, 'Richard, the shaved head looks good. Will you shave your head for the part?'" Moll recalled. "I said, 'Are you kidding? I'll shave my legs for the part. [I'll] shave my armpits, I don't care.'" In the finale of Night Court, which also starred Harry Anderson and John Larroquette, Moll's character was abducted by aliens because they needed someone tall enough to grab things for them in high places.

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Moll didn't join the Night Court reboot starring Larroquette, but instead went on to do voice-over work for video games and animated series, as well as take on small roles in such films as 1994's The Flintstones, 1996's Jingle All the Way, and 2001's Scary Movie 2. "Larger than life and taller too," Larroquette posted online on Friday after news of Moll's death. "We first worked together on Mork and Mindy and then we spent nearly a decade helping Judge Harry Stone and the Night Court world come to life. My condolences and heart felt sympathy to his family and loved ones." Moll is survived by his two children, Chloe and Mason Moll; ex-wife Susan Moll; and stepchildren Cassandra Card and Morgan Ostling. (More Night Court stories.)

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