Peter Benchley's Biography

Grandson of famed humorist and actor Robert Benchley and the son of highly respected children's books author Nathaniel Benchley, novelist Peter Benchley's book were decidedly more dramatic in their content and style than his father's, and usually centered on the world's oceans as a backdrop to his vigorous plots. Benchley is of course best remembered for penning the multi-million selling thriller Jaws, which was eventually filmed by director Steven Spielberg starring Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw. Jaws (1975) was a box office sensation, becoming one of the seminal films of the 1970s, spawning several inferior sequels, numerous low budget copycat films starring hammerheads, tiger and mako sharks. Plus generations of swimmers chose backyard pools over the mysterious ocean surf for cooling off in summer. Benchley also wrote The Deep and The Island which were also both brought to the screen, but with much less fanfare and box office return than the Jaws venture. Interestingly, after the enormous hysteria created over the great white shark and their alleged man-eating habits, Benchley became a dedicated environmentalist committed to learning all he could about one of the world's most amazing apex predators. In the ensuing years, Benchley became one of the great white shark's greatest defenders and publicly admitted on numerous occasions that with what he now knew about the fragility of the species, he would have never written a book like Jaws which demonised the great white. Benchley kept very active in his passion for studying great whites up until the time of his death from pulmonary fibrosis on February 11th, 2006.

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