Author Peter Benchley, whose 1970s novel Jaws became a literary sensation, has died at his home in Princeton, New Jersey. Benchley, who was 65, had been suffering from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive and ultimately fatal scarring of the lungs.
In 1975, Jaws – the tale of a white shark with an insatiable appetite – went on to become one of the biggest box office blockbusters ever. In fact, according to boxofficemojo.com, when adjusted for 2006 ticket prices, Jaws is the seventh most successful motion picture in history in the U.S. and Canada market, with its gross take topping $819 million.
Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film adaptation (by Benchley and Carl Gottlieb) starred Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw. It won three Academy Awards (best editing, Verna Fields; best original score, John Williams; and best sound), and was nominated for best film.
Inevitably, there were several sequels though none was nearly as successful – whether commercially or critically – as the original.
Benchley also wrote both the novel and the screenplay for the dreadful The Island (1980), and wrote the novel on which the inconsequential The Deep (1977) was based. (Benchley co-wrote the latter film’s screenplay with Tracy Keenan Wynn).