The cartoon world is mourning Sol "Jabberjaw" Goldblum, who died Tuesday. The 1,910 lb. tiger shark was caught off the coast of Martha's Vineyard in an intense two-hour battle with local fishermen.
"It's tragic," said Biff, co-star and guitar player for the Neptunes, the fictional band featured on the 1976 cartoon, Jabberjaw
. "Sol was always a professional, always delivered, but could never get the respect of the industry. If there was any justice in the world, Warner Brothers would be two pictures into a Jabberjaw
franchise and Scooby Doo would be hanging up there over that dock."
Sadness is shared by the show's other stars. Bubbles and Clamhead, who married in 1982, released a joint statement. "Bubbles and I are saddened by Sol's death and out hearts go out to his family. But we know that if there's a shark heaven, he's up there right now gorging on an endless mound of seals. Wowee-wow-wow, Sol. Keep swimming."
One co-star, however, had a less nostalgic view of the show. "The residuals were completely
unfair," claims Shelly, who played tambourine for the Neptunes and who has been featured in a series of direct-to-video adult cartoons. "I nearly destroyed my career on that show and ol' blubberhead managed to scoop up almost all the back-end money. I don't take any pleasure seeing his corpse strung up like that, but c'mon, he was a shark. Who cares?"
The Canadian-born Goldblum was enjoying a busy career as a character actor when he auditioned with ABC in 1976 for a role as an drummer in a new Hanna-Barbera under-sea musical comedic adventure show, based extensively on Scooby Doo
and Josie & The Pussycats
, which had been hits for the network. The show also hoped to capture the recent attention focused on sharks, which had been stirred up the previous summer by Steven Spielberg's film, Jaws
"I knew it was a rehash," Goldblum recalled 30 years later. "But that's how this business works. If you got a hit, you milk it. What do I know from producing TV shows, I just say the lines."
The series attracted an enthusiastic following of aquatic fiction fans, especially among teenagers and children, but not enough ratings power. ABC canceled it after one season.
"A long and storied career is over. I knew Sol when he started out in Canada and I knew him in his last years in America, so we go way back. My condolences go out to his family," fellow Canadian William Shatner said. Goldblum and Shatner had co-starred on stage in the Montreal roadshow version of The Odd Couple
When the series ended in 1977, Goldblum found himself typecast as the zany shark with a voice like Larry Fine from the Three Stooges. In 1983, he complained to his dentist, who advised him: "Sol, you're going to be Jabberjaw long after you're dead. If I were you, I'd go with the flow."
"I took his advice," said Goldblum, "and since then everything's been just lovely."
At 19, Goldblum escaped the turmoil at home by joining the Canadian army, becoming a lieutenant in the artillery. He was among the Canadian forces that landed on Juno Beach on D-Day. "The sea was rough," he recalled. "We were more afraid of drowning than the Germans. Well... I wasn't really, but you know what I mean."
He was shot six times: one that took off the tip of his right fin (he usually managed to hide the missing bit on the screen), four in his tail and one in the chest. The chest bullet was stopped by his silver cigarette case.
After the war, Goldblum on a whim enrolled in a drama class in Toronto. He showed promise and won a two-year scholarship to New York's famed Neighborhood Playhouse, where fellow students included Weird Harold, Tony Randall and Muttley.
His commanding presence and squeaky voice brought him work as a character actor in films and television, both in Canada and the United States.
Oddly, his only other TV series besides "Jabberjaw" was a small regular role on another underwater adventure, "Sea Hunt," in 1957.
Goldblum's first marriage produced forty-nine children. He had twenty-three children by his second marriage. Both marriages ended in divorce and many of the children were eaten soon after reaching maturity.
In a 1998 interview, Goldblum was asked if he ever got tired of being called Jabberjaw.
"Yeah, pretty much." he replied.Also in this series...