Published at: Feb. 12, 2006, 7:15 p.m. CST by staff
Hey guys. Quint here to deliver another dose of bad news. We've been hitting the obituaries strong and steady for the last few months and now another icon has passed away.
I knew of the film JAWS before I knew of Peter Benchley. I went back and read the novel in my junior high years and came to the conclusion that Steven Spielberg and his team took that book to the next level, made it a classic. That's not to speak ill of Benchley's work as an author. He did create the world, afterall. Wherever you are, thanks for the namesake.
I read much of his work in those days. THE DEEP, THE ISLAND, BEAST (my personal favorite) and even WHITE SHARK, which is probably Benchley at his most twisted... It's about an escaped Nazi test experiment that is half-nazi super soldier and half shark.
Of course Peter Benchley's fiction all stemmed from his true life fascination with the ocean and its creatures. He was a very vocal conservationist and famously condemned the rampant shark hunting that struck the shores of America after the release of JAWS.
He also rather famously fought against the production of his first novel, JAWS, after having his script rewritten and ending changed. There was a vocal and public back and forth between him and Spielberg at the time, but they eventually settled their disputes. If you remember, Benchley has a cameo in the film as the TV reporter on Amity Island over the 4th of July reopening of the beaches.
I had a chance to see him speak at Jawsfest last summer on Martha's Vineyard. He looked ill then, but still had much life in him.
Benchley was the grandson of Algonquin Round Table founder Robert Benchley and son of author Nathanial Benchley.