Mostly Credited As: Peter Benchley
Date Of Birth: May 08, 1940 (Age 65)
Country Of Birth: USA
Birth Place: New York City, New York
Date Of Death: February 11, 2006
Cause Of Death: Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (New Jersey)
Benchley, the grandson of humorist Robert Benchley and son of author Nathaniel Benchley, was born in New York City in 1940. He attended the elite Philips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, then graduated from Harvard University in 1961. He worked at The Washington Post and Newsweek and spent two years as a speechwriter for President Johnson, writing some "difficult" speeches about the Vietnam War, Wendy Benchley said.
The author's interest in sharks was lifelong, beginning with childhood visits to Nantucket Island in Massachusetts and heightening in the mid-1960s when he read about a fisherman catching a 4,550-pound great white shark off Long Island, the setting for his novel. Thanks to Benchley's 1974 novel, and Steven Spielberg's blockbuster movie of the same name a year later, the simple act of ocean swimming became synonymous with fatal horror, of still water followed by ominous, pumping music, then teeth and blood and panic. While Peter Benchley co-wrote the screenplay for "Jaws," and authored several other novels, including "The Deep" and "The Island," Wendy Benchley said he was especially proud of his conservation work.
He served on the national council of Environmental Defense, hosted numerous television wildlife programs, gave speeches around the world and wrote articles for National Geographic and other publications. The author did not abide by the mayhem his book evoked. In fact, he was quite at ease around sharks, his widow said. She recalled a trip to Guadeloupe, Mexico, last year for their 40th wedding anniversary, when the two went into the water in a special cage. Wendy Benchley, married to the author for 41 years, said he died Saturday night, Feburary 11th, at their home in Princeton, New Jersey. The cause of death, she said, was idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive and a fatal scarring of the lungs. Besides his wife, Peter Benchley is survived by three children and five grandchildren. He was 65.