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Excerpt from Mindhole Blowers: 20 Facts About Jaws That Might Make You Want to Scream, "Shaaark!"
1. For years, author Peter Benchley thought about writing a book about sharks that attacked people and what would happen if the sharks wouldn’t go away. In 1964, he read a story about a fisherman who caught a “4550 pound great white shark off the shores of Long Island, and thought, what if one of those wouldn’t go away?” In 1971, a publisher told Benchley it would make an interesting story and so he wrote the novel.
2. The sport fisherman Benchley had read about was Frank Mundus, a “colorful character” who in fact, harpooned that white shark (estimated weight—no scale—of 4500 pounds) and still holds the record (with Donnie Braddick) for the largest fish caught by rod and reel: A 3,427 pound great white shark. Though Benchley denied it, many sources (including Jaws screenplay writer and actor Carl Gottlieb) say the character of Quint was based on Mundus (who died in 2008).
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