He Had Memorable Role in Jaws as a Kid. Now, Fitting News

Ex-child actor Jonathan Searle named police chief in Martha's Vineyard town where 1975 movie was shot
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2022 7:45 AM CDT
New Police Chief Has Hollywood-Level Tie to Town
Sign welcoming visitors to Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard.   (Getty Images/Melissa Kopka)

Life is definitely imitating art on Martha's Vineyard, where a former child star in one of Steven Spielberg's biggest blockbusters ever has just accepted a stars-are-aligned job. The Vineyard Gazette reports that the town of Oak Bluffs has named as its new police chief Jonathan Searle, a longtime sergeant in the neighboring town of Edgartown. Oak Bluffs just happens to be the real-life location where Jaws, Steven Spielberg's 1975 summer blockbuster, was shot (in the movie, the town was called Amity), and Searle, a Martha's Vineyard native, had a minor but memorable role in the film, along with his real-life brother.

Per CBS News, the Searle siblings played pranksters who used a fake cardboard shark fin in the water, causing everyone at the beach in the fictional town to go into a frenzy. In an eerie coincidence, Jonathan Searle had to investigate shark sightings off of Martha's Vineyard in 2008—only to find it was a hoax, much like the one his character had pulled in Jaws. The perpetrator was charged with disorderly conduct, per the New York Post. Law enforcement roots run deep in the Searle family: Searle's dad, George Searle, was on the Edgartown force for three decades, serving as its chief from 1981 to 1995.

Jonathan Searle, now 56, is excited to be moving next door to head up the police department for the town of 5,000 or so. "It's something I've been working toward my whole career," he tells the Gazette. As for his Hollywood ties, and the buzz it's created as a result of his new position, Searle is taking the whole thing in stride. "I'm finding the whole thing quite funny myself," he tells the Post. (Read more Jaws stories.)

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