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The sole surviving full-scale model of the 1975 Jaws shark has been rescued from a junkyard in Sun Valley, California and is heading upstream to a new home at The Academy Museum.

The creation of the film’s mechanical shark – which Spielberg named Bruce after his lawyer, Bruce Ramer – was undertaken by art director Joe Alves, who designed a prop with a 25-foot long body, 400-pound head and jaws nearly five feet wide.

Three latex and rubber sharks were cast and used in production but in the salt water they constantly broke and as a result the movie ran over schedule and over budget.

Steven Spielberg grabs a shot of the title character with some of the crew, including up to 40 technicians for the shark itself. Image: AMPAS

Steven Spielberg grabs a shot of the title character with some of the crew, including up to 40 technicians for the shark itself. Image: AMPAS

Following the film’s release, the three rubber casts deteriorated so badly that they were discarded.  This last remaining shark was a cast from the original mould created for display at Universal studios where the prop remained a popular backdrop for photos until 1990.

From there it was moved to the yard of Aadlen Brothers Auto Wrecking, who regularly bought used vehicles from Universal Studios. With the business due to close in January 2016, owner Nathan Adlen has donated the historic prop to the Academy Museum.

Steven Spielberg has a close encounter with his temperamental title character. Image: AMPAS

Spielberg has a close encounter with his temperamental title character. Image: AMPAS

Kerry Brougher, Director of the Academy Museum, said,

Jaws was the original summer blockbuster – a movie that marked a turning point in culture and society – and Bruce is the only surviving version of its unforgettable central prop. This extraordinary addition to our collection is a major contribution to the resources we will use to illuminate film history and enhance the public’s understanding of the arts and sciences of motion pictures.”

“Bruce caught the eye of my father, Sam Adlen, at first glance back in 1990, and for many years he’s been like a member of the family.” said Nathan Adlen.

To find out more about The Academy Museum click here

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