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Jaws: The movie and the military veterans who made it

Jaws burst onto the silver screen in June of 1975 and become a historical icon. These are the military veterans who made it.
Joel Searls Avatar
who made jaws
On the set of the Universal Pictures production of 'Jaws' in 1975 in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Jaws burst onto the silver screen in June of 1975 and become a historical icon for many reasons. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the movie became the prototype for the summer blockbuster. It grossed $476.5M in the box office on a budget of $9M. It was the highest-grossing film of all time until a friend of Spielberg’s named George Lucas made Star Wars. Jaws is about a coastal town terrorized by a great white shark during its peak summer tourism season. The town’s police chief, professional shark hunter and marine biologist must hunt down the shark with exciting thrills and special effects. It stars Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfus, Robert Shaw, Lorraine Gray and Murray Hamilton.

Here are the military veterans who made Jaws

Peter Benchley

Peter Benchley wrote the best-selling novel of Jaws and co-wrote the screenplay with Carl Gottlieb. Benchley wrote many more novels adapted into film and TV such as The Deep, The Island and White Shark. A highly educated man who had attended the Allen-Stevenson School, Phillips Exeter Academy and Harvard University, he joined the Marine post-education and served in the Reserves. Benchley wrote for Newsweek and was a speechwriter for President Johnson in 1967.

peter benchley
Peter Benchley.

He wrote Jaws as a struggling novelist in the early 1970s, and it was published in 1974 and became a great success. The book was a near-last-ditch effort of his as a writer, and he wrote it under stressful circumstances. It was based on a true story from 1964 of a fisherman catching a 4500-pound great white off the coast of Long Island. The novel was a best seller for 44 weeks, leading Hollywood to be interested in producing it. Benchley had a cameo appearance as a news reporter in the film adaptation. His career continued as a novelist following his work on the screenplay and the film which made him a wealthy man.

Carl Gottlieb

Carl Gottlieb is known for his work as a screenwriter, actor, comedian and executive. He grew up in NYC and studied at Syracuse University. Gottlieb served in the U.S. Army from 1961 to 1963 in the Special Service Division. He joined an improv comedy troop post-service and in turn, contributed on such shows as The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Bob Newhart Show, All in the Family and The Odd Couple.

carl gottlieb
Carl and a friend.

He was initially hired to play the editor of the local newspaper in Jaws; however, Spielberg knew of his writing abilities and had him redraft the script with more humor and character development. He still played his part on screen and his new part behind the scenes. Gottlieb wrote the book The Jaws Log, the screenplay for Jaws 2 and Jaws 3-D. He has served in many leadership positions for the Writers Guild of America West from the early 1980s until the present.

David Brown

David Brown was a producer of some of the greatest films of all time. These include Jaws, The Verdict, Driving Miss Daisy, A Few Good Men and The Sting. Brown worked with such talents as Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, Morgan Freeman, Roy Schieder, Paul Newman, Jessica Tandy, Robert Redford, Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw. He was a highly educated man, having attended Stanford University for his undergrad and Columbia for graduate school.

david brown who made jaws
Steven Spielberg with David Brown (right) on the set of Jaws.

He broke into the business in the story department of 20th Century-Fox under Daryl F. Zanuck, whose son, Richard Zanuck, he later partnered with on many films. Brown also served in the U.S. Army during World War II before entering the industry. He provided a sure and guiding hand to Spielberg and the cast during the production of Jaws. He came back to produce Jaws 2 and produced the Cocoon films of the 1980s among his many titles.

John Williams

Likely the greatest living composer of all time, John Williams scored Jaws and created the haunting fear of the deep with his music. The man has won five Academy Awards, 25 Grammys, seven British Academy Film Awards and four Golden Globes. He is known for his scores on Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Indiana Jones and many more. Williams served in the Air Force in the 1950s in the band before coming to the world of composing in Hollywood.

john williams who made jaws
John Williams insert, with Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw on the set of Jaws.

Williams earned an Academy Award for Best Music for the film and later received AFI’s sixth greatest score for his work. The score has been released on LP in 1975 and a CD in 1992. The entire 51 minutes of the original score was released in 2000 by Varese Sarabande.