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The shark hunter who was made famous by Jaws
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Before Frank Mundus, few deep-sea fishermen hunted sharks. Mundus both pioneered the sport and was widely seen as the inspiration for Capt. Quint, the cantankerous, literally shark-consumed fisherman in Jaws. Mundus died of a heart attack in Hawaii, where he had retired.
Mundus ran a charter-boat business on Long Island, N.Y., said Newsday, catering to “thrill-seekers” who wanted to join him in killing sharks. “Great whites, threshers, makos, blues. Whatever it was, Mundus caught it.” One of his customers was a young author named Peter Benchley. In 1974, Benchley published Jaws, a novel about a monster shark that terrorizes a seaside community. Both the book and the hit 1975 film version featured Quint, a “salty captain obsessed with killing the great white.”
“At the time, Benchley said he was inspired by Mundus,” said the New York Daily News—though later, he said Quint was a composite. Like Quint, Mundus was a character; he wore a belt buckle made from a harpoon dart and went barefoot on deck, painting “his big toenails green and red, respectively, for port and starboard.” Also like Quint, he spoke his mind—including about the movie that brought him fame. “I was never consulted on the movie, never made a penny off it,” Mundus complained. “All I ever wanted was a ‘thank-you’ from Benchley and I never got it.”
Although Mundus said he enjoyed Jaws, he also said he found the movie completely far-fetched. “I was laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes,” he said. “There’s no fish strong enough could pull a boat like mine forward or backward.”
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