Benchley, Peter (1940-2006)

The Peter Benchley collection consists of manuscripts, correspondence, printed material, audio, video, professional material, memorabilia, and other items.

Manuscripts by Benchley in the collection include his manuscript for Time and a Ticket (1964); as well as his novels Jaws (1974); The Deep (1976); The Island (1979); The Girl of the Sea of Cortez (1982); Q-Clearance (1986); Rummies (1989); Beast (1991); and White Shark (1994).

Manuscripts for Benchley’s screenplays include his adaptations of his novels Jaws (with Carl Gottlieb, 1975), The Deep (with Tracy Keenan Wynn, 1977), The Island (1980), Tiburon (unproduced), Q-Clearance (unproduced), and White Shark (1994, unproduced). Also present is Benchley’s screenplay for the film Jeremiah of Jacob’s Neck (1977), as well as Equal Time and The Most Powerful Man in the World, both written with Paul Zimmerman (both unproduced, ca. 1977).

Teleplays by Benchley in the collection include two episodes of the series Dolphin Cove (1989; second episode written by John Masons and Ann Reckling); material for the series Peter Benchley’s Amazon (1999); and Mayday, written with George Bell (unproduced, 1989).

Other manuscripts by Benchley include the short pieces “Melville in Hollywood,” “Nantucket as a World Leader,” outlines for novels and screenplays, and other miscellaneous pieces.

Manuscripts by other writers in the collection include National Lampoon’s Jaws 3 / People 0, a screenplay by John Hughes and Tod Carroll (unproduced, 1979); The Beast, a screenplay by John Carpenter (unproduced, 1992; different from the 1996 television version); Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, a screenplay by Alan Rudolph and Randy Sue Coburn (1993; film released in 1994; this film contained Benchley’s first acting role as Vanity Fair editor Frank Crowninshield); and A Gentle Pen: Nathaniel Benchley’s Letters to Young Readers .

Correspondence in the collection consists of numerous personal and professional letters to and from Benchley, dating from 1974 to 1999; a photocopied card for Benchley’s memorial service (2007); and a telegram to Benchley from Steven Spielberg.

Printed material in the collection includes published items by Benchley, numerous reviews and articles regarding Benchley and his novels, promotional material, and other miscellaneous items, including a scrapbook of clippings from various editions of the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. This series also includes articles from People magazine regarding Benchley (1975) and uncorrected proofs of Beast (1991), The Deep (1976), Shark Trouble (2002), and Shark Life (2005), among other items.

Audio material includes a recorded interview of Benchley by Betsy Palmer; a radio advertisement for White Shark; “Great Moments for Young Americans,” an album created by the U.S. Army for radio broadcast (Benchley was the voice of “moment number 8”); and other recordings. This series also contains Benchley’s audiobooks, Q Clearance (1986); Beast (1991); and White Shark (1994).  

Video material includes advertisements for The Island and “ABC Superstars”; a recording of The Beast (as broadcast on television); A Celebration of the Life of Peter Benchley (2007) and other items.

Professional material in the collection includes office files compiled by Benchley while working as a speech writer for Lyndon B. Johnson (1967-1969) and various reports and editor’s memos by Benchley while working as an editor at Newsweek magazine (1972). Also included is a file on Sea Hunt (1994-1995), which includes printed material and correspondence.

Memorabilia in the collection includes Benchley’s diplomas from Philips Exeter Academy (1957) and Harvard University (1961); a flight certificate signed by Lyndon B. Johnson; yearbooks (1926-1957), including the Harvard Freshman Red Book; and other items.

Additional material in the collection includes a diary kept by Benchley (1961-1962); photographs, including film stills of The Island; contracts and legal agreements; royalty statements; and other miscellaneous material.

Notable Figures
1. Benchley, Peter
Associated Subjects
1. Literary Collections Subject Guide
2. New Yorker Magazine Subject Guide
3. Journalism
4. Novelists
5. Authors, American
6. Novels
7. Videotapes
8. American literature--20th century
9. Fiction
10. Audiotapes
11. Sound recordings