‘Jaws’ Movie Poster Artist, Roger Kastel, Dies at 92

JAWS, key art, 1975
Everett Collection

The man behind some of the greatest movie posters of all time has sadly passed away. Artist Roger Kastel died on November 8, 2023, from kidney and heart failure at the age of 92. His wife of 66 years, Grace, confirmed the news.

Kastel’s most famous piece of art may be the painting of the shark and swimmer for the paperback version of Peter Benchley’s “Jaws.” The image was used for the 1975 movie poster. Kastel opened up about his inspirations for the art in the documentary The Shark Is Still Working.

JAWS, movie poster, 1975

Everett Collection

He said that he was visiting the American Museum of Natural History in New York to photograph some fish and asked to see the sharks. They were under refurbishment but the museum let him photograph them in different positions. He recalled in the documentary, “All the sharks were laying on easels. And so I had my camera with me. I knew what position I wanted the shark in, and there was this great white that they had laying on an easel; I guess they were dusting it. And that’s what I worked from.”

As for the swimmer, he was inspired by a model at a Good Housekeeping shoot. He asked her to stick around after the shoot and shot some poses for the book cover. Not only did Kastel create the iconic Jaws movie poster, but created posters for films such as The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Doctor Faustus (1967), and The Great Train Robbery (1978). He is responsible for many book covers in the ’60s and ’70s as well.

His work has been recognized in the books “200 Years of American Illustration” and “The Illustrator in America: 1860-2000.” He is survived by his wife, their two children, grandchildren, and one great-grandson.

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