Tuesday, February 21, 2006


The Deep author Peter Benchley dies – based main character on local legend, Teddy Tucker


The Royal Gazette
By Dan Jones
February 19, 2006

The late Peter Benchley freely admitted the exploits of deep sea diving icon Teddy Tucker provided the inspiration for his novel The Deep.

The best-selling book – follow-up to the legendary Jaws and published in 35 countries – was born in Bermuda.

It was later turned into a 1977 movie that became the first major film to be shot on the Island. This allowed camera crews to take full advantage of Bermuda’s stunning seascapes and marine life, as they shot an underwater thriller that would captivate cinema fans across the world.
Mr. Tucker provided the vision for The Deep by taking the American author to the wreck of Constellation, which sank in 1943.

And this led to the creator of Jaws getting his teeth stuck into a rip-roaring plot about a young couple who discover a shipwreck while diving on holiday – and then get caught in a dangerous conflict with treasure hunters.

“Teddy Tucker was the inspiration for The Deep. Absolutely,” Mr. Benchley states on Mr. Tucker’s website. “With the license of fiction, Romer Treece (a main character in the film) is Teddy Tucker. All of the information came from him.

“The Constellation, which he took me on, became the Goliath. The parallels are infinite and Teddy after all was in the movie.”

The author and marine conservationist said his father and grandfather visited Bermuda regularly, and he said he grew up with the Tucker family.

He added: “I met them in 1969 or ‘70 when the National Geographic sent me down to tell the story of Bermuda by the shipwrecks around it. And the way you did that of course was to be put in touch with Teddy Tucker.

“The man is a walking encyclopaedia, one of the great autodidacts in the history of science. Here is a man who, on his own, has become one of the world’s leading experts on everything from coins to ships, to nautical history, to underwater archaeology, to painting and glassware.

“Here is a man who had been dismissed for many years by serious scientists, and only now have they begun to realise that he knows ten times more than most of them do.”

When the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute celebrated the 25th anniversary of the making of The Deep with a gala fund-raiser, Mr. Benchley was on the star-studded guest list.
His close ties with BUEI went back to its early planning stages, and the shark expert served on its international advisory board from inception.

In an interview with The Royal Gazette, the author was asked what triggered his interest in marine conservation.

“At the time ‘Jaws’ was published, the world knew very little about sharks and less still about the ocean. The seas seemed to be infinite and invulnerable to everything man could throw at them,” he said.

“After the book came out, however, and especially after the movie was released, I was given dozens of opportunities to do television and magazine stories about diving and the sea, especially about demystifying marine animals.

“Gradually, as I learned more about the oceans and the creatures in them, the concept of conservation become more and more important.

“The damage man has done to the oceans in the last thirty years has been catastrophic.”
And he was quick to praise the influence of Mr. Tucker for helping him tackle the steep learning curve on the mysteries of the deep.

He added: “Those 30 years have been a superb education for me – thanks largely to Teddy – with whom I’ve gone on countless adventures and from whom I’ve learned an incalculable amount.”

Benchley was born in New York City in 1940. He attended the elite Philips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, then graduated from Harvard University in 1961.


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