'Jaws' Shark Donated to Academy Museum

Universal Pictures/Getty Images
'Jaws'

The last surviving model from the 1975 film will be the largest object in the Academy's collection.

Bruce the shark, the famous seafaring predator from Jaws, has found a new home at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ museum.

The Academy announced Thursday that a full-scale model of the shark, the last surviving one from the 1975 movie, has been donated to the museum by Nathan Adlen. During filming of Jaws, director Steven Spielberg nicknamed the shark Bruce after his lawyer Bruce Ramer.

The Fiberglas model is the fourth and final version made from the original mold. Created for display at the Universal Studios Hollywood at the time of the film’s release, the prop remained a popular backdrop for photos until 1990, when it was moved to the yard of Aadlen Brothers Auto Wrecking, a firm in Sun Valley, Calif., that regularly bought or hauled used vehicles from Universal Studios. With the business slated to close this month, owner Nathan Adlen is giving the historic prop to the Academy Museum, which is set to open in 2018.

The shark model will join other holdings — including an underwater apparatus and fin used in Jaws and Jaws II — as the largest object in the collection to date.

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," said Kerry Brougher, director of the Academy Museum. "This extraordinary addition to our collection, made possible through the generosity of Nathan Adlen, 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.”

Directed by Spielberg and based on the 1974 Peter Benchley novel, Jaws helped to establish the modern blockbuster. It was selected by the Library of Congress in 2001 for preservation in the National Film Registry.

The creation of the film’s mechanical shark 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. The mold yielded three latex and rubber casts that were used in production. Following the movie’s release, the three rubber casts deteriorated and were discarded. But the fourth cast, made of Fiberglas for promotional use, has survived. In 2010, it was authenticated by Roy Arbogast, a member of the film’s special effects crew.

“I am delighted to be part of the new Academy Museum through the gift of this beloved American icon,” said Adlen. “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. And the May Company building, where the Museum is being created, feels like part of the family too, since I grew up in the Miracle Mile district and shopped with my parents at the May Company, where my wife even had a part-time job. This is going to be the perfect place to share this extraordinary treasure with the world.”

The Academy is currently raising $388 million to support the building, exhibitions and programs of the Academy Museum. The campaign was launched in 2012, under the chairmanship of Bob Iger and co-chairmanship of Annette Bening and Tom Hanks. To date, the Academy has secured more than $250 million in pledges from more than 1,300 individual donors.

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