'Jaws' author Peter Benchley dies aged 65

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The Independent US

Peter Benchley, whose novel 'Jaws' terrorised millions of swimmers even as the author himself became an advocate for the conservation of sharks, has died at age 65, his widow said yesterday.

Wendy Benchley, married to the author for 41 years, said he died Saturday night 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.

Thanks to Benchley's 1974 novel, and Steven Spielberg's blockbuster movie of the same name, 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.

"Spielberg certainly made the most superb movie; Peter was very pleased," Wendy Benchley told The Associated Press.

"But Peter kept telling people the book was fiction, it was a novel, and that he no more took responsibility for the fear of sharks than Mario Puzo took responsibility for the Mafia."

Besides his wife, Peter Benchley is survived by three children and five grandchildren. A small family service will take place next week in Princeton, Wendy Benchley said.

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