Peter Gimbel

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Peter R. Gimbel (February 14, 1927 - July 12, 1987) was an American filmmaker and underwater photojournalist.

Born in New York City, Peter was the son of Bernard Gimbel and heir to the Gimbels department store chain.[1] After serving in the United States Army occupation force in Japan in 1946-1947, he graduated from Yale University in 1951, earning degrees in both English and economics.[2] He spent ten years as an investment banker but after the death of his twin brother at age 29, he left banking to pursue a career in exploration. He parachuted into the Peruvian Andes with G. Brooks Baekeland (grandson of Leo Baekeland, the inventor of Bakelite) and Peter Lake in search of the lost Inca city of Vilcabamba.[3]

He was the first to dive the wreck of the SS Andrea Doria and his photos of the ship were published in Life magazine in August 1956.[2][4] He produced two documentaries about the ship The Mystery of the Andrea Doria and Andrea Doria: The Final Chapter.[5] He opened the safe of the Andrea Doria on live television in 1984.

Gimbel also directed and produced the 1971 film Blue Water, White Death which was the first cinematic filming of the Great White Shark, featuring Ron and Valerie Taylor, Rodney Fox, Stan Waterman and Peter Lake.[6][7] The shark's attack on Lake's cage at the end of the film inspired Peter Benchley's book, Jaws.[8]


  1. ^ "Gimbel's Grail", Time Magazine, September 14, 1981
  2. ^ a b Credo Reference Topic: "Peter Robin Gimbel"
  3. ^ Peter R. Gimbel, "By Parachute Into Peru", National Geographic Magazine, August 1964
  4. ^ Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, Book review of Blue Meridian: The Search for the Great White Shark by Peter Matthiessen, New York Times, April 23, 1971
  5. ^ Obituary, New York Times, July 13, 1987
  6. ^ IMDb: "Blue Water, White Death"
  7. ^ IMDb: "Peter Lake"
  8. ^ Thom Benson, "Famous Shark Cage To Be Unveiled At Aquarium Sunday",, July 21, 2008

External links[edit]

Peter Gimbel at Find a Grave