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Last mechanical Jaws shark, aka 25-foot-long 'Bruce,' joins Motion Picture Academy museum

By Don Kaye
Bruce the Shark from Jaws at the Academy Museum

The last surviving mechanical shark created for the movie Jaws, famously nicknamed Bruce, has been fully restored to his fearsome glory and has received a special berth at the soon-to-open Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles.

The 1,208-pound, 25-foot-long shark, which is 45 years old, has been mounted above the main escalator at the Museum, where he'll welcome visitors with perhaps the toothiest smile a host ever offered.

Bruce Loading Into The Academy Museum

It's worth noting that this version of Bruce did not actually appear in Steven Spielberg's classic 1975 horror thriller. Three copies of Bruce were created for the movie by art director Joe Alves, but in a remarkably short-sighted move, all three were destroyed after filming wrapped (none of them ever worked properly, so Spielberg was probably happy at the time to see them go).

But after Jaws became the first modern Hollywood summer blockbuster, Universal Pictures quickly commissioned the construction of a fourth Bruce from the same mold used to cast the three that starred in the movie. After hanging at Universal Studios Hollywood for 15 years, Bruce IV was again unceremoniously cast aside, ending up in a Sun Valley, California junkyard for the next quarter century.

Bruce in 2016

The junkyard's owner, Nathan Adlan, donated Bruce IV to the museum in 2016 after the monster was authenticated in 2010 by Jaws special effects supervisor Roy Arbogast as the genuine article.

But after years of sitting outside in the sun in the middle of a junkyard, Bruce IV was in bad shape. He required a loving seven-month restoration by special effects and makeup wizard Greg Nicotero, known for his work on The Walking Dead and many other genre films. The next challenge was getting him into the Museum itself, which necessitated the use of a 70-foot flatbed truck, as well as the removal of several large glass windows in the building and Bruce's fins so that he could be squeezed through the entrance.

Bruce, who like his shark brothers was reportedly named after Spielberg’s lawyer Bruce Ramer, is now visible from Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles, where the Museum is located and set to open on April 30, 2021.