Ain't It Cool News (www.aintitcool.com)
Movie News

Farewell and adieu...

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.

He died in his home in Princeton, New Jersey last night at the age of 65 due to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive and fatal scarring of the lungs. My thoughts are with his friends, family and fans.



Readers Talkback
comments powered by Disqus
    + Expand All
  • Feb. 12, 2006, 7:20 p.m. CST

    sadly... first

    by washisdead

    as geeks we are getting old enough that all our heros are passing on... it sucks

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 7:20 p.m. CST

    First, sadly

    by performingmonkey

    I've read the Jaws book and it's great. I think I'll try and check out his others.

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 7:22 p.m. CST

    Legendary

    by lethalegg

    I hate to hear that he passed away, he was a genius, and did so much good in his lifetime in addition to writing his fine literature, fiction and non-fiction alike. Farewell, Mr. Benchley

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 7:23 p.m. CST

    Kind of ironic...

    by Aragorn II

    ...since I've been watching crappy Jaws sequels all day on Sci-Fi. Wonder if that's what did him in? Seriously, though, sad news.

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 7:25 p.m. CST

    Birdy it's been done

    by Media Fiend

    GREAT WHITE was an ABC mini called PB'S CREATURE. It was pretty lousy.

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 7:33 p.m. CST

    Sad News

    by Cpt Kirks 2pay

    Guess this guy was sorta responsible for my fascination with Sharks and for me making my 2 little films on Shark Diving with Great Whites and Tigers. Hard to believe that a close companion to the world of Sharks and their movies is gone.

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 7:34 p.m. CST

    RIP

    by dejectedgeek

    Sucks very much, I was a fan of his work as well.

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 7:40 p.m. CST

    No story/film has or will ever effect mankind more...

    by shark_bait

    then JAWS. Every person that ever goes swimming be it at a beach or lake doesn't think or joke about JAWS because no movie has ever scarred the human psyche more. Thank you Mr.Benchley R.I.P

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 7:41 p.m. CST

    Creature

    by Jubba

    Yeah the TV special movie was pretty poor...I never got around to seeing the second half once I saw the nazi super soldier shark thing. Maybe it's the shark with the logo in Lost, who knows.

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 7:45 p.m. CST

    Too bad

    by I Dunno

    Although I think the script was an improvement over the book, it was still a great book.

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 7:47 p.m. CST

    RIP

    by Proman1984

    too bad

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 7:49 p.m. CST

    We're gonna need a bigger boat...

    by Seph_J

    ...across the river styx. Farewell.

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 7:54 p.m. CST

    an absolute classic

    by la_sith

    Give it up to an author that brought to live a screen legend. "Farewell and adieu" indeed.

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 8:02 p.m. CST

    Benchley

    by Shad0wfax

    I read one of his books for the first time recently, THE DEEP. It was a cliched bit of pulp fiction but it was enjoyable enough to pass a few lunchbreaks. I want to read JAWS. That movie was a really formative part of my cinematic heritage.

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 8:03 p.m. CST

    Right, you're swimming at the beach... picture this.

    by Seph_J

    "At first, the woman thought she had snagged her leg on a rock or a piece of floating wood. There was no initial pain, only one violent tug on her right leg. She reached down to touch her foot, treading water with her left leg to keep her head up, feeling in the blackness with her left hand. She could not find her foot. She reached higher on her leg, and then she was overcome by a rush of nausea and dizziness. Her groping fingers had found a nub of bone and tattered flesh. She knew that the warm, pulsing flow over her fingers in the chill water was her own blood. Pain and panic struck together. The woman threw her head back and screamed a guttural cry of terror."............... reading that shows that Spielberg didn't have to look far for inspiration.

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 8:20 p.m. CST

    Man goes into coffin,

    by I Dunno

    coffin goes into ground, writer in the ground. Our writer.

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 8:20 p.m. CST

    I agree about Jaws

    by Gorrister

    No disrespect to Benchley, but I think Jaws is one of those movies that is actually better than the novel. Normally, I like the book better. Unfortunately, I think Benchley made the characters in Jaws too unlikeable (including Brody and Hooper). Basically, everyone in the book is an asshole. The biggest problem with this is that them being assholes makes Quint look that much less like an asshole. lol

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 8:34 p.m. CST

    My thoughts

    by moleperson78

    Yeah...i agree with you guys i read the book and like psycho (and i think Bloch is a great writer)its one of those times where the movie is vastly superior to the book-but lets not forget that if it wasn't for Mr. Benchley we wouldn't fear for our lives everytime we step foot in the sea. And bless his soul for that. I liked that he keeped the characters unlikable-Bloch did the same in Psycho funny enough-its just that Steve and Hitch--really know how to hit home runs with suspense

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 8:51 p.m. CST

    RIP

    by PushTheButton

    Without Jaws, I would be a very different person I am today. I tip my 40, good man.

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 8:54 p.m. CST

    My dad died of the same thing

    by charlesgrodinsux

    A little over a year ago my dad died from the same disease. He was only 52. It's a really scary thing to have.

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 9:27 p.m. CST

    I was a JAWS obsessed shark freak when I was a kid.

    by Regicidal_Maniac

    This man's book and the film of the book made me the man I am today. In school while everyone else wanted to be Han Solo I wanted to be Matt Hooper, even though he dies in the book. I wanted to be an oceanographer and marine biologist, (like George Costanza always wanted to pretend to be). When I saw how much work was involved I though eh feckit I'll become an actor and writer instead like Richard Dreyfuss whose v.o. work on Stand By Me also affected my path. Anyway I read Jaws, The Deep and White Shark and even worked on the tv movie of The Beast. So Mr Benchley I thank you for the inspiration and the paycheque.

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 9:30 p.m. CST

    Back home we got a taxidermy man.....

    by KongMonkey

    He's gonna have a heart attack when he see's what I brung him. Best line from the movie. RIP Pete.

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 9:38 p.m. CST

    THE GIRL OF THE SEA OF CORTEZ

    by Film Whisperer

    Was Benchley's best book. It's a lyrical tale of a peasant girl who befriends a manta ray. It showed that Benchley had more writing chops than the pulp work he spent his entire career pumping out. Yeah, I thought THE ISLAND and THE DEEP were good books, but I didn't think JAWS was that good (much of it having to do with my deep affection for the changes that Spielberg and Carl Gottlieb made), and his later stuff seemed to be desperate and lazy attempts to cash in on his name. BEAST was pretty much someone doing a caricature of a Benchley novel.

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 9:51 p.m. CST

    Myth Busters

    by Led Gopher

    There was a JAWS themed episode of Myth Busters on TV today, I wonder if that was coincidence or just done as a tribute, but still sad news in any case.

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 10:14 p.m. CST

    His dad was a better author.

    by Billyeveryteen

    I've cried, laughing at his stuff.

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 10:21 p.m. CST

    Wow...

    by Neosamurai85

    Jaws was a huge part of my childhood. Rest in peace.

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 10:54 p.m. CST

    and only today I was watching Jaws 3D...

    by chickychow

    okay, that sucks, but I love Jaws and will always have him to thank for providing the story to one of the great entertainments.

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 11:38 p.m. CST

    Book < Movie by a long shot

    by desslok

    Shit book, but an awsome movie. But hey - any story that spawns an entire genre and scars a generation for life has to get thumbs up from me.

  • Feb. 12, 2006, 11:44 p.m. CST

    Did he drown?

    by Yoda's Ball Sack

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 12:38 a.m. CST

    If Brett Ratner died...

    by Aragorn II

    ...I think my first thought would be "Is it too late to save X3?"

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 12:48 a.m. CST

    r.i.p

    by ImissGnR

    what is nuts it that i hope that he realize that 8/10 of us ( not talkbackers) still skim over the horizon for sharks when we head towards the ocean.. thanks for the embedded safety, in the same vein as "look both ways" :)

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 1:25 a.m. CST

    Benchley&#39;s description of Brody peeing...

    by Det. John Kimble

    Is frigging hilarious, and, told from the perspective of Ellen (who in the book has a history with Hooper, but that&#39;s another post) feels real. I love the film, and I love the book. How rare is that and how wonderful. That Benchley devoted much of his life post-JAWS in hopes of dispelling many of the myths about sharks that JAWS helped to perpetuate is probably his greatest legacy. RIP.

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 2:01 a.m. CST

    RIP

    by Exterminans

    Mr.Benchley

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 4:30 a.m. CST

    Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish ladies

    by skoobyx

    Farewell and adieu you ladies of Spain, For we received orders for to sail back to Boston, And soon never more will we see you again........Always loved that.

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 4:53 a.m. CST

    Peter Benchly

    by emeraldboy

    Said that if he had known what effect the movie Jaws had on the relationship between Sharks and People(after the movies people were terrified to go into the water) he would Never have allowed the book to have been made into a film and in many ways and with hindsight he regretted the book being turned into a film. Later on benchly became a shark activist and was angry when people described sharks as killing machines. RIP Peter Benchly.

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 5:23 a.m. CST

    He cheated karmic death by shark attack will Spielberg?

    by Regis Travolta

    Surely Karma will see to it that some day when Spielberg is an old man swimming in the Long Island sound just off shore from his palatial multi-million dollar Hamptons beach house he will be eaten by a great white shark. Steven will be enjoying the warm summer water when he&#39;ll see the fin. Steven will blink and it&#39;ll be gone. Steven will think it&#39;s just his imagination. He&#39;ll hear John Williams music in his head. He&#39;ll swim some more laughing to himself at how silly he&#39;s being. Then he&#39;ll see the fin again but this time, he&#39;ll know it&#39;s real. The shark fin will start to circle Spielberg. John Williams music will be pounding in Steven&#39;s head. Fear will overpower his instinct for survival. And he&#39;ll remember: It was way back in 1975 when he saw firsthand how fear of being eaten by a great white shark could scare the crap out of moviegoers. His moviegoers. That was 50 years ago! It&#39;s now August 2025. Steven will swim toward shore, but he won&#39;t make it. He can&#39;t. Karma won&#39;t allow it. Chomp! Chomp! Karma is funny that way. It&#39;s inevitable. Like Final Destination 4. Or eventually scientists will actually clone a tyranosaurus rex and Steven will be sitting on the toilet of his beach house cabana and he&#39;ll hear a mighty roar, look up and be swallowed whole just like that annoying lawyer was eaten in Jurassic Park. Karma&#39;s funny that way. It&#39;s inevitable. Like Jurassic Park 4. Or perhaps Steven will be killed accidentally by a Mossad hit team out to avenge another terrorist massacre. Karma&#39;s funny that way. I should know because My Name is Earl.

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 6:43 a.m. CST

    You can always rely on aicn-talkbackers

    by Colonel_Blimp

    to deliver the most tasteless condolences concievable. "We&#39;re gonna need a bigger boat across the river styx"? RIP.

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 6:51 a.m. CST

    RIP

    by JackTarmac

    I thought the film thankfully cut out a lot of the book&#39;s fat, but the descriptions of ths shark and the attacks in the book could never be replicated on film. RIP, Mr. Benchley and thanks for JAWS.

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 7:04 a.m. CST

    stillonly been in the sea a handfull of times since see

    by BankyEdwards2309

    I saw Jaws on the biggest screen Liverpool had to offer at the time, The Abbey in Wavertree ( now a supermarket sadly). And to see , what to me was a real shark , devour people,boats and chum! was a life changing experience for one and all!Read the book, that didn&#39;t help the swimming come back..then read the Deep, that was a bit milder..but a great author all the same. I&#39;m off to the local pool to test my resolve of water..Thanks Peter for saving me from drowning for all these years.RIP dude.

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 7:31 a.m. CST

    .seeing this movie.

    by BankyEdwards2309

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 8:15 a.m. CST

    "I am an AICN TalkBacker..."

    by Roguewriter

    "I revel in my unchecked power to slag off the dead. This is my flame. There are many like it but this one is mine." Sigh... R.I.P., Mr. Benchley. Your works helped change this young reader&#39;s life forever.

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 8:27 a.m. CST

    RIP

    by L. Duderino

    One of my favorite movies ever. Always been affraid of water since, as a kid I even imagined sharks being released in the school-swimming pool. Man did I swim fast whenever that fantasy took hold of me! Still would love to catch a JAWS-screening out on the open sea...

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 8:44 a.m. CST

    Too bad...

    by Evil Chicken

    Benchley

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 8:49 a.m. CST

    RIP

    by radio1_mike

    Great movie, and very decent book. RIP, Peter Benchley. Hey, did anyone else have that Marx Toys Jaws game as a kid? I loved that game. Cool plastic shark and teeth. Chomp!

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 8:58 a.m. CST

    hey Semaj

    by FleshMachine

    the movie had far more influence in that regard.

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 9:01 a.m. CST

    The Deep Rocked

    by butnugget

    nuff said.

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 9:30 a.m. CST

    Well, sharks ARE killing machines

    by I Dunno

    No, they don&#39;t chase after your boat and sink it intentionally but Jaws was first and foremost a monster movie. He was no more a shark than Kong was a gorilla. And I&#39;d wager that there were more human lives saved by people being afraid of the water than sharks killed in marine hate crimes.

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 10:09 a.m. CST

    A sad day...

    by Blue_Demon

    I saw "Jaws" the summer before 6th grade. Can you imagine going to swim off South Padre Island after seeing that movie? Holy crap! I then read the novel and loved how scary Benchley made the shark seem, with its "grin." Great adventure book. And, for those of you who think that he was responsible for the deaths of thousands of sharks, well, Mr. Spielberg may have had a hand in it as well. In a National Geographic article on great whites a couple of years back, Mr. Benchley stated that he was sorry his book had given people reason to hate sharks. Rest In Peace Mr. Benchley.

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 10:33 a.m. CST

    RIP

    by R.C. the "Wise"

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 10:48 a.m. CST

    I found this on comment on empires website

    by emeraldboy

    "Sharks are up to something if you ask me. Talking between them should be discouraged wherever possible. Talkative jellyfish, on the other hand, are no threat. I have no opinion either way on chatty haddock". Priceless.

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 10:49 a.m. CST

    ah fuck it...

    by Mr Chuff

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 10:50 a.m. CST

    ah fuck it part II

    by Mr Chuff

    This man (along with Spielberg) is responsible for my immense fear (and fascination) of sharks. This man is the reason I have a huge JAWS print at the end of my hall... sad news.

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 11 a.m. CST

    Semaj

    by lethalegg

    He devoted the second half of his career to educating the ignorant people who couldn&#39;t sort out fantasy from fact in an effort to undo what ultimately Spielburg did, as catalyzed by Benchley&#39;s work of fiction. He spoke on my campus about sharks and discussed the misconceptions that the movie induced about sharks and he really cared about them, he was vehemently remorseful for the damage his work caused. He made up for it.

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 11:05 a.m. CST

    sad new indeed

    by clockpolitiks

    Didnt know about this until just now. Sucks. I remember seeing Jaws as a little kid, and it was one of my favorite movies. Still is. I remember sitting in my 6th grade english class reading his novels. Its a sad day. RIP Peter.

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 11:38 a.m. CST

    I spent a day with Benchley back in 2000

    by Goonie

    Peter Benchley was in DC to support a political cause that I was working for. He was such a great guy. We talked about Jaws and about sharks and about politics-- he was so nice and friendlly. I&#39;ll miss you Peter!

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 11:54 a.m. CST

    Rest Well.

    by BillyShakes

    I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Benchley when I was little. He was in Bermuda during the filming of The Deep (That gorgeous four poster bed in the movie? I was conceived on that bed!) and came for dinner a few times. I don&#39;t remember much, other than the fact that he had a lot of time for me and my brother, talking to us, spending time. I remember this meant a lot to me. He was a good writer and a good man. Oh, and those mopeds in the flick? They were there because that&#39;s what tourist drive here, even to this day. And don&#39;t forget Robert Shaw was in it, too!

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 1:49 p.m. CST

    Other Benchley Books

    by KingMob666

    He also wrote Q Clearance about a lowly government flunky who is mistaken for someone of higher importance and Rummies in which an AA group tries to solve the murder of one of their own. Both good reads.

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 1:54 p.m. CST

    not a very good author, but influential surely.

    by HypeEndsHere

    i love his quote about how he wanted to quit being a writer because he wasn&#39;t any good, but he was too successful because of Jaws. seemed like a good guy. i wonder if they&#39;ll give him a burial at sea.

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 2:01 p.m. CST

    When I heard this news

    by Hamish

    My first thoughts were for Quint. Is that wrong?

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 2:16 p.m. CST

    "Man goes into cage. Cage goes into Salsa.

    by pokadoo

    Shark&#39;s in the Salsa. Our Shark!"

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 2:55 p.m. CST

    Much love goes to Benchley&#39;s family.

    by The Pusher

    Jaws (the film) is indeed one of the greatest films ever made, and the book is definitely a great read. Take it easy in the afternow.

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 4:49 p.m. CST

    no, you just heard about it today, bacci40.

    by HypeEndsHere

    it&#39;s been on the main page for a while now. scroll down.

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 9:03 p.m. CST

    Hookjaw...

    by workshed

    ...anyone remember &#39;Hookjaw&#39; from &#39;Action Comics&#39;..?

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 9:47 p.m. CST

    too damn freaky....

    by screamster

    i just watched Jaws 2, 3, and 4 this weekend cause I had the flu. too damn freaky and sad. may he rest in peace.

  • Feb. 13, 2006, 10:54 p.m. CST

    Wasn&#39;t last years "Into the Blue"...

    by REDD

    a pseudo remake of "The Deep"?

  • Feb. 14, 2006, 4:40 a.m. CST

    Quint, i must say I&#39;m a little disapointed in you

    by BendersShinyAss

    Perhaps Eugoogolies are Harry&#39;s fortay but after all the good shit you&#39;ve given us over these past couple months...... this article was really quite bland. sorry.