His novel helped launch the most famous helmer in Hollywood and it also made us think twice about splashing around in the ocean on a li-lo.
New York author Peter Benchley sadly passed away on Saturday aged 65 – the former journalist and Presidential speech writer died of complications from pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive scarring of the lungs that he’d suffered with since late last year.
Benchley was raised in New York and became fascinated with sharks during his childhood summers in Nantucket, Massachusetts. In 1974 he wrote Jaws – a chilling tale about a monstrous great white shark that strikes terror into the residents of a small Long Island fishing town.
The novel sold over 20 million copies and was made into a movie in 1975 by the young Steven Spielberg. Benchley even managed to sneak a cameo as a journalist sniffing around the bay for a story.
Benchley’s sea obsession continued as he penned The Deep and The Island (no, not that one) but despite their critical success, his name will always be synonymous with that heart-thumping score and the image of a fin cutting through the waves.
Peter’s widow Wendy was married to the author for 41 years simply stated: “Spielberg certainly made the most superb movie and Peter was very pleased.”