Murray Hamilton as Larry Vaughn, ineffective mayor of Amity Island
Amity Island, July 1974
Release Date: June 20, 1975
Director: Steven Spielberg
Costume Design: Louise Clark, Robert Ellsworth, and Irwin Rose
“You open the beaches on the fourth of July, it’s like ringing the dinner bell, for chrissakes!” implores police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) to the mayor of Amity Island in the wake of the deadly threat of Bruce the Shark lurking offshore.
Unfortunately for the residents of Amity—which, as you know, means friendship—our charming mayor is the kind of odious self-promoter who thinks idealists like Hooper only share his self-absorbed goal of fame and glory, or a “you’d love to make it into the National Geographic!” moment, unable to comprehend that some people do their jobs or take public office for the sake of serving the public and not for good PR or cutthroat ambition.
A thirty-year screen veteran by the time he slipped into Mayor Vaughn’s anchor-detailed jacket, Murray Hamilton was one of the best character actors of the era with a particular talent for making smaller roles memorable, as seen in movies like Anatomy of a Murder (1959), The Hustler (1961), Seconds (1966), The Way We Were (1973), and perhaps most visibly as the famously cuckolded Mr. Robinson in The Graduate (1967).
In Jaws, Hamilton delivers just enough glad-handing, baby-kissing charisma that you can almost understand why the citizens of Amity Island likely just shrugged and voted the stubborn publicity hound back into office as “the devil they knew”… just in time for the events of Jaws 2 (1978).
What’d He Wear?
Many men wear blazers that nod to their nautical heritage with anchors embossed on the buttons… but that’s far too subtle for Mayor Larry Vaughn, who demands that his anchors be seen by all! Reportedly picked up for the production in a secondhand store on Martha’s Vineyard (source), the mayor’s jacket has greatly transcended his inglorious term of office to become one of the most beloved movie costume pieces.
While he cycles between this, a colorful pastel multi-striped jacket, and a relatively somber camel blazer, it’s understandably this anchor-detailed jacket that commands most sartorial attention, with many an online tribute from this Movies Unlimited writeup to its own Facebook page where, as of June 2021, more than 5,000 “fans”—including yours truly—are irregularly updated with random quotes from Mayor Vaughn.
The jacket is certainly appropriate for the leader of a coastal town but also neatly communicates Mayor Vaughn’s “all flash, no substance” style of leadership, a man so stubbornly rooted—anchored, if you will—to his own ideas.
Mayor Vaughn’s jacket is suited in a navy and white twill, likely polyester based on prevailing trends of the mid-’70s as well as the evidence provided from a member of The RPF who located an identical jacket—actually as part of a suit—in red and white polyester twill. The overlaying anchors are embroidered in white with a navy border. The single-breasted jacket has fashionably broad notch lapels, detailed with appropriately sporty “swelled edges”, that roll to two flat mother-of-pearl 4-hole sew-through buttons which match the three buttons on the cuff of each sleeve. The long single vent also follows the fashions of the ’70s, and the welted breast pocket and hip pocket’s wide flaps reflect the same welted edge as seen on the lapels.
The mayor always pairs his anchor jacket over a light blue poplin shirt with a large spread collar, front placket, and button cuffs. Appropriately enough, he’s clad in a patriotic red, white, blue repp striped tie when he first see him obsessing over whether the beaches will be open for the fourth of July.
This tie is comprised of balanced navy and crimson bar stripes in the traditionally American “downhill” direction, accented with double sets of thin white stripes along the border of each stripe. His ties are consistently wider than average, harmonizing with the wider shirt collar and jacket lapels and consistent with ’70s neckwear trends.
Days later, Mayor Vaughn provides a reluctant audience to Hooper and Brody, clad in the same anchor-motif jacket and blue shirt but with a different striped tie. Grounded in navy polyester, the tie is patterned in double sets of mustard gold embroidered “downhill” stripes, each set separating a slightly wider satin-finished navy stripe through the center.
The mayor’s navy flat front trousers are fully cut through the legs to the somewhat flared plain-hem bottoms that break high enough to show his slate-shaded blue socks and his well-worn brown leather loafers, which have long apron-toe seams and a vestigial strap across each vamp. The shoes coordinate with the dark brown leather of his little-seen belt, which closes through a silver-toned single-prong buckle.
Some production stills depict the mayor wearing a beige gabardine coat draped around his shoulders as Brody and Hooper make their final case for closing the beaches, though this single-breasted coat with its wide Ulster collar and flapped hip pockets never actually appears on screen.
Barely glimpsed on the mayor’s left wrist is a plain steel wristwatch on a black leather strap. The round white dial has little adornment aside from the simple silver non-numeric markers at each hour position.
If I were recreating the mayor’s kit, I might take this opportunity to wear my Spiro Agnew watch, a novelty piece from the early ’70s that celebrates one of American history’s most famously crooked politicians, worn on an appropriately patriotic red, white, and blue NATO strap.
How to Get the Look
You’ve got to hand it to Mayor Vaughn for at least attempting a coastal variation on the tired politician’s “uniform” of a conservative navy or gray suit, instead showing the citizens of Amity Island that he truly cares by
ignoring threats to their safety and wellbeing dressing in a jaunty jacket that reflects their seaside locale.
- White anchor-embroidered blue-and-navy polyester twill single-breasted 2-button sport jacket with wide notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and long single vent
- Light blue poplin shirt with spread collar, front placket, and button cuffs
- Navy and crimson “downhill”-striped repp tie with thin white accent stripes
- Navy flat front trousers with belt loops, side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Dark brown leather belt with silver-toned single-prong buckle
- Brown leather apron-toe strap loafers
- Blue cotton lisle socks
- Steel watch with a round white dial on black leather strap
While it differs in the execution, Castaway Clothing took direction from the mayor’s wardrobe to develop the sky-blue “Spinnaker Blazer” with white embroidered anchors, unashamedly inspired by Mayor Vaughn but updated for modern vacationers with an unstructured cotton shell.
I haven’t been able to find the exact stripe configuration of the mayor’s red, white, and blue tie, though the patriotic Vaughn would almost certainly wear either of these with pride from Brooks Brothers, Club Room, and Manoble.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie and read Peter Benchley’s source novel.
I don’t think you appreciate the gut reaction people have to these things.