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Thread: Peter 'Jaws' Benchley, author, dies at 65

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    Friend of Gossip Rocks! ourmaninBusan's Avatar
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    Default Peter 'Jaws' Benchley, author, dies at 65

    'Jaws' author Peter Benchley dead at 65

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Peter Benchley, author of the best-seller "Jaws" that was the basis for the blockbuster movie that terrified beachgoers and kept many out of the water for years, died at his home at age 65, his family said on Sunday.

    Benchley, well-known for other water-based suspense fiction including "The Deep" and "The Island," which also spawned films, died of complications from pulmonary fibrosis, his son-in-law Chris Turner told Reuters.

    Benchley was diagnosed with the condition last autumn and his health had been diminishing, but his death at this time had not been expected, according to Turner.

    "It was peaceful," he said, adding that the writer's wife Wendy and other family members were by his side at their Princeton, New Jersey home.

    In addition to the fame he achieved as a novelist, Benchley was a reporter for the Washington Post and Newsweek, wrote for magazines and a speechwriter for President Lyndon B. Johnson from 1967 until January, 1969.

    The Harvard graduate, who grew up in New York City and went to prep school in New Hampshire, was also the grandson of writer and humorist Robert Benchley, member of the renowned Algonquin Round Table that included personalities such as Dorothy Parker, George S. Kaufman, Robert Sherwood and Alexander Wolcott.

    But it was the 1974 novel "Jaws," about a series of gruesome shark attacks that cause panic in a placid beach resort, that Benchley won the kind of fame rarely accorded any writer of popular fiction.

    The book has sold more than 20 million copies, and Benchley even had a cameo as a reporter in the 1975 Steven Spielberg film, which spawned a series of inferior sequels.

    Benchley said he had been interested in sharks since his childhood days spent on the island of Nantucket off Massachusetts. Then, in 1964, he read about a fisherman who caught a 4,550-pound great white shark off Long Island.

    "I thought to myself, 'What would happen if one of those came around and wouldn't go away?' That was the seed idea of 'Jaws,'" he said in an interview on his Web site.

    But he didn't pursue the idea until 1971. By the time the book, his first novel, came out in early 1974, it had earned more than $1 million before the first press run, including $575,000 for the paperback rights and from sales to books clubs and the film's producers.

    Benchley continued his lifelong fascination with the sea and its potential terrors with "The Deep," about divers looking for treasure, and "The Island," in which sailors are terrorised by modern-day pirates. Among his latest books was "Shark Life: True Stories About Sharks and the Sea," which was published only last year.

    "Everything I've written is based on something that has happened to me or something that I know a great deal about," Benchley said.

    "In 'Jaws' I knew a great deal about sharks. In 'The Deep' I had been lucky enough to learn about Bermuda and to meet Teddy Tucker, a great Bermudan treasure diver, while doing a story for the National Geographic, and I learnt about shipwrecks in Bermuda," he added.

    But, he noted, he was never injured by any sea creature other than jellyfish stings or sea urchin spines, although he was nearly bitten by sharks a few times.

    Other books included "White Shark," "Beast," about a giant squid, and "Rummies," about an alcoholic's journey through recovery and rehabilitation.

    Besides his wife Benchley is survived by two grown children. Funeral arrangements have not been formalised.
    The book has a bit more complexity in the movie -- Hooper has an
    affair with Chief Brody's wife, as I recall -- so it might be worth it
    to go back and have another read. But the phenomenon was huge
    back in the 1970s -- it rivalled the Godfather in terms of cultural impact.

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  2. #2
    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peter 'Jaws' Benchley, author, dies at 65

    Yeah, the book was fascinating, especially the ending. Speilberg tacked on the exploding shark bit cuz he felt the ending iin the book was too sedate.

    In the book, after sinking Quints fishing boat Chief Brody is basically using a bunch of cushions to help keep him afloat, and the mammoth shark was approaching him after the long battle. It swam slower and slower and as Chief Brody hung on and closed his eyes waiting for the massive jaws to crush the life out of him, but then nothing happened.

    He opened his eyes, and the shark's nose was an inch away but it wasn't moving.. and then it slowly sank, as the wounds from the battle with the fishing boat, the guns , the harpoons finally took their toll and the massive fish died before it could kill him.

    See, to me that was a MUCh more powerful ending.. the pure terror of that mammoth killing machine, like a locomotive with a mouth full of butcher knives, slowly closing in on you and then stopping an inch away and slowly slippin beneath the surface, dead..

    Gawd.. gave me nightmares for weeks.

    *shiver*
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

  3. #3
    Elite Member SammysMom's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peter 'Jaws' Benchley, author, dies at 65

    I have never read the book but due to your description Grimmlok Im going to go out and get this book.
    Oh that would have been a much much better white-knuckle ending.
    Thanks

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