Bruce showing off his chompers in ‘Jaws’ (Universal)
Cue the music and clear the water, Jaws is resurfacing in Hollywood.
The only surviving shark model from Steven Spielberg’s 1975 blockbuster is heading to the Academy Museum, the under-construction facility in Los Angeles that will house the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ unmatched collection of cinema memorabilia.
While nearly indestructible in the film, the Jaws sharks proved dramatically frangible out of water. The original 25-foot mechanical monster, crafted by Joe Alves and nicknamed “Bruce” after Spielberg’s lawyer, Bruce Ramer, repeatedly malfunctioned during production, resulting in Spielberg reducing the shark’s screen time. Alves’s shark mold produced four copies (also called Bruce); the first three were latex and deteriorated over the years. But the fourth was made of more durable Fiberglass to be used for promotional purposes. That Bruce landed at Universal Studios Hollywood as a backdrop for photo-seeking tourists, before falling into disrepair and getting shipped off to Aadlen Brothers Auto Wrecking in Sun Valley, California, a graveyard for discarded Universal props and vehicles.
Last Jaws model, as displayed at Aadlen Brothers Auto Wrecking (Aadlen Brothers Auto Wrecking/Facebook)
The company’s owner, Nathan Adlen, had displayed the sole extant carcass for more than three decades, but with the upcoming closure of Aadlen Brothers, he decided to donate the iconic fish to the Academy, where it will be the largest object yet in the collection. The museum has also secured other key props from the film series, including a fin used in Jaws and Jaws II.
“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,” Nathan said in a statement. “This is going to be the perfect place to share this extraordinary treasure with the world.”
Spielberg and Bruce (Universal)
Aside from the Jaws specimens, the Academy Museum’s holdings include 62,000 pieces of production art — ranging from a Planet of the Apes mask to a model horse head made for The Godfather to the lion’s mane and ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz — in addition to 12 million photographs, 80,000 screenplays, prints of 80,000 films, 55,000 posters, and reams of printed materials, including production notes, diaries, correspondence, storyboards, and personal scrapbooks. The museum will be housed in the historic May Company building on L.A.’s Miracle Mile and is set to open in 2017.