Were it not for Frank Mundus, the chalkboards on Amity Island might have been a lot quieter.

Mundus was the inspiration for Quint, the fearless shark hunter in Jaws. So said Mundus. Now, as for Peter Benchley...

The late Benchley was the author who wrote the best-selling thriller that Steven Spielberg turned into a blockbuster movie. And, as the New York Times reported this week, Benchley long maintained that the flinty Quint, played by Robert Shaw in the 1975 film, was not based on Mundus.

As for Mundus... Well, he was, as the Times put it, "clearly irked" at Benchley's denial.

"If he just would have thanked me, my business would have increased," said Mundus, who worked as a Long Island fisherman, just like a certain book and movie character. "Everything he wrote was true, except I didn't get eaten by the big shark. I dragged him in.?

Mundus began hunting sharks—"as a joke"—in Long Island waters back in 1951. The ensuing years brought him plenty of close calls, big catches and opinions on Jaws.

"It was the funniest and the stupidest movie I've ever seen because too many stupid things happened in it," Mundus wrote on his Website.

Shaw's Quint, however, was spot-on: "He knew how to handle the people the same way I did," Mundus wrote.

Unlike Quint, Mundus met his end on land. He died Wednesday of a heart attack at a Honolulu hospital. He was 82. And he didn't hold anything against sharks.

"A lot of people over the years have thought of him just as a hunter of sharks," wife Jeanette Mundus told the Associated Press. "But he did try to preserve them."

Other recent notable passings:

  • George Putman, 94, was a booming-voiced Los Angeles newscaster and commentator who, TV legend has it, was the inspiration for The Mary Tyler Moore Show's Ted Baxter as played by Ted Knight.
  • Anita Page, 97, was a Hollywood star of the 1920s and 1930s who came to be better known as one of the last surviving attendees of the first-ever Academy Awards, held in 1929.
  • Dancer Jacqui Landrum, 64, was, with husband Bill, a favored choreographer of the Coen brothers, coming up with moves for films such as Barton Fink and The Big Lebowski.
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