The death of Peter Benchley, famous writer of JAWS!, is seen as a great loss to the fictional literary world. His novel became an instant best seller and is singly responsible for terrorizing ocean loving children, adults, and fisherman, causing nightmares and avoidance of the precious temptations of swimming in the ocean.
From the time the book hit the stands to the present, after JAWS! broke records for box office revenues, the references to the great white mechanical shark, named Bruce, live in infamy, forever used to scare little kids into staying close to shore. Whenever a shark bites anyone, the terrifying memory of JAWS! resurfaces to be used to strike fear into every heart. The impact of this novel has spanned decades, from when it was written to when the movie hit the theaters in 1975.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Roy Scheider
Running Time: 124 minutes
Distributor: Universal Studios
A large, hungry shark does bad things to beach tourism until Richard Dreyfuss goes fishing in this Steven Spielberg feeding frenzy.
Oscar: Best Film Editing, Verna Fields
Oscar: Best Music, Original Score, John Williams
Oscar: Best Sound, John R. Carter, Roger Heman Jr., Robert L. Hoyt, Earl Mabery
BAFTA: Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music, John Williams
Golden Globe: Best Original Score, John Williams
Grammy: Album of Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special, John Williams
Eddie: Best Edited Feature Film, Verna Fields
People's Choice Award: Favorite Motion Picture
Every now and then, a shark munches on someone's leg, and the incident makes national headlines. No, we're not talking about Hollywood agents here but true-to-life, oversize, fish-like creatures invading America's beaches. It's enough to spark panic, clearing beaches on sunny days, and there's only one person to blame: director Steven Spielberg--and his frightening 1975 summer movie smash Jaws.
This summer, E! is reliving all your deep-water fears, reeling in all you ever wanted to know about the filming of Spielberg's blockbuster, with Jaws: The E! True Hollywood Story. Share the memory with friends, relive the horrifyingly bloodfest. Sleep with your lights on, for the memory of this book-turned hit movie never fails to generate a hair raising reaction! Downloadable, without commercials, this is one True Hollywood Story truly fit for the nightmare crowd!
But before that, we've got enough bait to lure even the most die-hard shark-lovers into a test of knowledge. Do you know your Jaws movies? Did you really understand what Quint was saying? Do you use pot roasts for bait? Then fire up your biggest boat, strap on some chain mail and grab a harpoon--our Jaws quiz is about to drag you under.
With the 1974 publication of Jaws, the story of a man- ,woman-, and child-eating shark that terrorizes a seaside community, Peter Benchley left an indelible imprint on the collective American psyche. Who would ever want to go into the water again?
But there’s little the reading public likes better than a good scare (remember Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby? Or how about Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs?), and with Jaws, his first novel, Benchley got all the elements just right: There was a predator; there was plenty of suspense; and, oh yes, plenty of gore, too. The book, a perfect summer beach read, was wildly successful and spent 40 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. Benchley, a former newspaper reporter, followed Jaws with The Deep and The Island, two more terrifying adventure novels of the sea.
Scientists have groused that Jaws has no grounding in reality, and Benchley, too, admits that the blockbuster had little basis in scientific fact. Back in those days, he told a reporter, “almost nobody had any firsthand experience with great white sharks.” Benchley’s interest in the ocean started early. As a child, he spent summers in Nantucket, and often went sailing with his father. The book was not inspired by any personal shark encounter, but by a newspaper story he read about a man who caught a two-ton great white off Long Island.
The author's interest in sharks was lifelong, beginning with childhood visits to Nantucket Island in Massachusetts and heightening in the mid-1960s when he read about a fisherman catching a 4,550-pound great white shark off Long Island, the setting for his novel.
Not so obvious is the impact on Benchley, after JAWS! was released and garnered the attention of the world, especially the shark hunters. He became an advocate of the great white shark, whose numbers are falling due to the attention they received. Hunted almost to extinction, Benchley expressed regret for having written the book and co-authoring the screenplay. The impact of his novel/movie has affected the population of the great white shark; and, for this, Benchley holds himself and his actions accountable for their demise.
"He cared very much about sharks. He spent most of his life trying to explain to people that if you are in the ocean, you're in the shark's territory, so it behooves you to take precautions," his wife, Wendy Benchley said.
The author did not abide by the mayhem his book evoked. In fact, he was quite at ease around sharks, his widow said. She recalled a trip to Guadeloupe, Mexico, last year for their 40th wedding anniversary, when the two went into the water in a special cage.
While Peter Benchley co-wrote the screenplay for "Jaws," and authored several other novels, including "The Deep" and "The Island," Wendy Benchley said, he was especially proud of his conservation work.
He served on the national council of Environmental Defense, hosted numerous television wildlife programs, gave speeches around the world and wrote articles for National Geographic and other publications. Was he trying to atone? Perhaps. Certainly, Benchley played an active role in the renewed interest in capturing and slaughtering the great white shark.
Rest in peace, Peter Benchley, amongst the carcasses of the great white sharks, whose lives were cut short in the prime of theirs. Rest in Peace, Peter Benchley, whose so-so novel-turned box office mega hit, earned revenues that generated fear and terror around the world, for both sharks and humans.