Jonathan Searle, a former child actor who appeared in Jaws, has been selected to serve as the next police chief on Martha’s Vineyard, the island where the film was made. The newly selected police chief will serve Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, a small town on Martha’s Vineyard, Yahoo! News is reporting.
Searle will succeed Oak Bluffs’ current police chief, Erik Blake, who’s set to retire next month. The former child star’s promotion in the police department was approved by a vote of 3-1 on May 16.
“I’m clearly elated and I’m humbled and honored to have been offered the position,” Searle told local newspaper, the Vineyard Gazette. “It’s something I’ve been working toward my whole career.
Oak Bluffs is a small town with approximately 5,300 year-round residents. In the summer, however, the population of the entire island’s six towns grows from 20,000 to around 200,000 with the arrival of seasonal tourists.
Jaws is set in the fictional town of Amity, which is located on Martha’s Vineyard. An island native, Searle, who’s now 56, was an eight-year-old boy when the film was shot on Martha’s Vineyard in 1974.
The thriller, which was released the following year by Universal Pictures, also stars Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss. Jaws, which was directed by Steven Spielberg, is based on the 1974 novel of the same name by Peter Benchley. It follows Amity’s police chief, Martin Brody (Scheider), and a marine biologist, Matt Hooper (Dreyfuss), as they try to save the town’s residents from a killer shark.
Many locals were cast in the movie, which went on to win three Oscars in 1976. Searle and his brother Steven both played the unnamed character of Boy Swimmer with Cardboard Fin, a young pranksters who wear snorkels and pretended to be the shark that wreaked havoc on the island. They cleared the waters, as beachgoers fled to the shore screaming. Their joke ended when they came up for air and had multiple police officers with guns pointed at their faces.
That particular scene was filmed by what is now called the Jaws Bridge, which is located on the border of Oak Bluffs and its neighboring town, Edgartown. It’s now a famous landmark on the island, where many tourists go to jump recreationally.
Searle didn’t pursue an acting career after his role in the drama, as he instead followed in his father’s footsteps.
George Searle was a police officer in Edgartown, beginning in 1966, and served as police chief from 1981 to 1995.
In 1986, the newly elected police chief became a police officer, also in Edgartown, and he rose the ranks. In 2008, he made news after he stopped a man who started a shark hoax on the island to scare beachgoers. The man was subsequently charged with disorderly conduct for the prank.