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Last Updated: Monday, 13 February 2006, 02:54 GMT
Jaws author Peter Benchley dies
Peter Benchley
Peter Benchley had a lifelong fascination with the sea
US author Peter Benchley, whose novel Jaws was made into one of Hollywood's most famous films, has died aged 65.

He died of complications from pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive scarring of the lungs he had been diagnosed with last autumn, son-in-law Chris Turner said.

"It was peaceful," Mr Turner added, saying that the writer's wife Wendy and other family members were by his side.

A Harvard graduate, raised in New York City, he was once a speechwriter for President Lyndon B Johnson.

He also worked as a journalist before becoming a novelist and publishing Jaws in 1974.

Mr Benchley, who lived in Princeton, New Jersey, and had two grown-up children, said he had been interested in sharks since his childhood days spent on the island of Nantucket off Massachusetts.

His novel, about a great white shark that terrorises a town off Long Island, sold more than 20 million copies.

He made a cameo appearance as a reporter in the 1975 film of his book directed by Steven Spielberg.

An avid environmentalist and diver, his lifelong fascination with the sea also continued with other books such as The Deep and The Island.

Despite writing books about the terrors of the deep, Mr Benchley wrote that he had "never been hurt by a sea creature, except for jellyfish and sea urchins.

"If you're careful, you don't have to worry about being attacked by sea creatures," he wrote on his website.

See Peter Benchley speaking about the plight of sharks

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