Child actor Jonathan Searle has gone from an on-screen troublemaker to landing a starring role in law enforcement. Fans of Steven Spielberg’s 1975 classic thriller Jaws may not know that Amity Island was a fictional tourist town invented for the film. But it wasn’t all movie magic—the town was modeled after and filmed in the beloved tourist destination of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. And now, Searle is paying tribute to his hometown in a big way.
Jonathan Searle Appointed As New Police Chief
In 1975, audiences watched a young Jonathan Searle and his brother Steven terrify the shell-shocked citizens of Amity Island by swimming into the shallow waters off of a public beach with a cardboard shark fin. The scene provided a memorable break in the tension for audiences who were anxiously anticipating another attack from the killer shark.
While it was just a brief speaking role, the young Searle surely could have used that exposure to launch a Hollywood career—but he had other plans. Instead of pursuing a film career, he followed in his father’s footsteps. The patriarch of the family, George Searle, served the police force in their town for 30 years. He even held the role of police chief from 1981 to 1995.
Jonathan Searle was selected for the position in a 3-1 vote this spring, fulfilling a lifelong dream for the on-screen prankster. “I’m clearly elated and I’m humbled and honored to have been offered the position,” Searle told the Vineyard Gazette. “It’s something I’ve been working toward my whole career.”
Jonathan Searle Is A Hometown Celebrity
But this isn’t the first time people have made the connection between the police officer and his 15 minutes of childhood fame. Back in 2008, life imitated art when a slew of terrifying shark sightings plagued the Vineyard. Searle’s team was on the case and in a truly remarkable twist of fate, the whole thing turned out to be a hoax. Ironically, Searle uncovered hoaxer Michael Lopenzo’s scheme to stir panic by orchestrating false shark sightings.
Fans certainly didn’t miss the irony, quickly connecting Searle to his role in the Spielberg classic. And now, Jaws superfans and locals who know Searle have been buzzing with excitement for his new role. “I’m finding the whole thing quite funny myself!” the new police chief told the New York Post after his appointment, acknowledging the amazing full-circle journey he’s embarked on.