One of the most unhinged movie characters in history was inspired by the life of perhaps one of the most unhinged men in history – real-life shark hunter Frank Mundus.
The classic 1975 film Jaws tells the story of a small American beach town that is being terrorised by a man-eating great white shark.
After all else fails, the local sheriff employs the help of deranged shark hunter Quint and together they set out to destroy the monster.
And amazingly Robert Shaw’s larger-than-life character was actually based on Frank Mundus – a man who probably killed more sharks alone than any fishing net could.
Based out of Montauk in Long Island, Mundus began his career as a bluefish fisherman but found limited success as he found there were more sharks in the waters than there were bluefish.
As a result, Mundus changed tack and outfitted his boat the Cricket II into the finest shark-killing machine ever assembled.
Filled with harpoons and barrels designed to stop sharks from swimming away once tagged, Mundus took to the seas again and began hunting the ultimate prey.
Like Quint, Mundus’ preferred way of killing sharks was via harpoon.
In the 1980s, after years of hunting and killing beasts, Mundus claimed to have caught an estimated 4,500 great white sharks, however this could not be proven.
Undeterred, in 1986, Mundus and his “Monster Fishing” crew snuck up on a 3,427-pound great white that was feeding on the carcass of the whale.
After killing the beast, Mundus controversially displayed it on the docks and claimed the record of the largest fish ever caught.
Mundus soon became known as a “Monster Hunter” and took to wearing a shark tooth necklace around the docks.
After JAWS came out, Mundus was critical of the film, describing it as “the funniest and the stupidest movie” he’d ever seen.
His main criticisms were the fact the shark was able to tow a boat, something he maintained was impossible.
He was however complementary to the character of Quint, who he accepted behaved like him.
He said: “He knew how to handle the people the same way I did.
“He also used similar shark fishing techniques based on my methods.
“The only difference was that I used handheld harpoons after field-testing harpoon guns and discovering that they didn’t work: the dart would pull out after hitting the fish.”
As with Steven Spielberg, who directed JAWS and was accused of demonising sharks, Mundus would go on to become a shark conservationist in later life.
But when Mundus died in 2008 at the age of 82, you sense many sharks breathed a sigh of relief.