New Bedford’s Connection to the Classic Film ‘Jaws’
The film Jaws was released on this day back in 1975, inventing the summer movie blockbuster and making people afraid to go into the water for years to come. Everyone knows the story takes place in the fictional New England town of Amity, but did you know that the movie has a connection to New Bedford?
Most people know the movie was actually filmed on Martha’s Vineyard, but the shark flick also ties into the Whaling City.
In the film, after the characters of Chrissie Watkins and Alex Kintner are both killed in shark attacks, a bounty is placed on the shark and amateur shark hunters take to the water to try and capture it. A group of local fishermen catch what they think is the culprit, but it turns out to be a tiger shark, not a great white.
One of those fishermen, a character named Felix, was played by future New Bedford resident and WBSM talk show host Henry Carreiro. He’s best known for his lines “It’s got a deep throat, Pratt!” and “That is a big mouth, look at it!”
Carreiro was a native of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard. According to his obituary in the Vineyard Gazette, he was a Navy combat veteran who served aboard the U.S.S. Owen, earning him two battle stars in the Korean War. He was injured and honorably discharged in 1954, and used the G.I. Bill to study journalism at El Camino College and political science at Long Beach State College.
Life eventually brought him back to Oak Bluffs, where he started his own construction company while hosting a talk show on WVOI-FM. He also took part in summer stock productions, and that acting resumé led to his appearance as Felix in Jaws.
Carreiro moved to New Bedford in 1979 and joined WBSM as a talk show host, and later went to WSAR in Fall River.
According to his obituary, “in the 1980s Mr. Carreiro served as the southeastern representative for the state Secretary of Labor monitoring Title III services for dislocated workers. He worked with and was a staunch supporter of labor unions. With the onslaught of factory closings in New Bedford and Fall River in the 1980s, he did all he could to help workers get back on their feet.”
He also was an outreach worker at the Fishermen’s Family Assistance Center before his retirement.
His obituary also states that Carreiro was given numerous awards for his work on the SouthCoast, including the Fall River Educators Award for professionalism (1983), the Bristol County Workers Foundation Award (1984) and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award (1985) “for promoting equality while on the radio.” He was also named Father of the Year in 1985 by the Standard-Times.
Carreiro died in 2009 at the age of 75.