The Man Who Created ‘Jaws’

Production designer Joe Alves, creator of the mechanical shark in "Jaws" and whose work also includes "Close Encounters" and "Starman" signs a "Jaws" t-shirt and other collectables at the Fox Theater in Fullerton, Calif. / Photo by Jessica Peralta

He’s a legend in film history, still most film fans don’t know Joe Alves, who turns 84 on May 21.

But if you were unable to get into the water after seeing Jaws, you know his work. If watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind in wonder, you know his work. If you wandered through the Night Gallery with the creeps, you know his work.

Alves’ career in film began as an assistant effects illustrator in 1956’s Shakespearean sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet, and continued as an art director on Alfred Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain.

But Alves’ work as a production designer is where he really made a name for himself in Hollywood. Alves created the shark for director Steven Spielberg in the original Jaws, making him part of film history. His work also includes Close Encounters, Escape From New York, Starman and as director for Jaws 3-D.

Halloween Every Night spoke to Alves in an exclusive interview at the historic Fox Theater in Fullerton, Calif. in 2019.