Art director and director Joe Alves, son of Portuguese emigrants, continues to have a legion of fans almost 50 years after he designed the original shark for Steven Spielberg’s classic film “Jaws”. “Not a week goes by without me receiving three, four or five letters from fans and requests for autographs, it’s constant”, said Joe Alves, in an interview with Lusa. “They come from all over the world,” he added. “It’s interesting, I don’t know why but it seems to be a lot of people’s favorite film.” This cult was evident this weekend at the Museum of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in Los Angeles, in a sold-out screening where the legendary Portuguese-American artist told the original story of “Jaws” and signed the book he wrote with Dennis Prince, “Designing Jaws”. The work he did between 1973 and 1975, the year the film premiered, barely allowed him to anticipate the success that would continue to be fifty years later. “When we finished the film we were not heroes, we had exceeded the budget and the deadline”, he said. “The original sharks were thrown into a corner and rotted.” Joe Alves at an event on February 1, 2020″ data-title=”The Portuguese-American who designed Spielberg’s “Jaws” continues to have a legion of fans – SAPO Mag”> Joe Alves at an event on February 1, 2020 The stories Incredible scenes from that time, when the studio system was in full swing in Hollywood and Steven Spielberg was still a young man, fascinated the audience at the Academy Museum. Alves, now 87 years old, was enthusiastic about sharing the moment and the memories with fans. “I drew the shark and Steven Spielberg wasn’t even in the film yet”, he recalled. He also said that he had never been contacted by Portuguese journalists, and they had never even asked him about his ethnic heritage. “Tubarão” (1975 )” data-title=”Portuguese-American who designed Spielberg’s “Tubarão” continues to have a legion of fans – SAPO Mag”> “Tubarão” (1975) Joseph Manuel Alves was born in California, the son of two Portuguese emigrants, who left the northeast of Portugal first towards Hawaii and then towards San Francisco Bay. It was there that they got married, in an area where many other Portuguese emigrants settled for decades. “I was always very aware of my Portuguese heritage,” said Joe Alves, explaining that he learned to speak some Portuguese while growing up mainly because of his grandparents, who never spoke it. English. “My parents were very careful about me speaking English,” he said. “They never spoke Portuguese at home, only when we went to visit family.” But they had a Catholic church less than two blocks away and Joe Alves remembers the community’s festivities and processions. Five years ago, the artist visited Portugal and went looking for the house where his father was born, a granite building with a green gate that is said to be hundreds of years old. “There was an old photograph of the house, in a village in the northeast of Portugal,” he said. He wandered around the village in search of the house and ended up finding it, in the company of his wife and a friendly couple. It was there that the experience took place that left Joe Alves enchanted: they found a woman who invited them in, communicating through the cell phone translator. “She invited us to lunch and then took us to the apartment where there was a lady dressed in black, in a rocking chair, with a white cat on her lap”. The lady, aged 101, was Joe Alves’ father’s cousin, found many years after he had left the village behind. Alves’ father’s cousin, born in 1904, offered them a glass of Port wine and a glimpse of blood ties they would never have dreamed of. “Isn’t it incredible,” he questioned. “I had the opportunity to meet family members.” Alves characterized the trip as “very pleasant”, praising the country and its people. “The people are very friendly, the food is excellent,” said the artist. “Portugal was a wonderful experience.” “Tubarão” was a pioneering film, which launched the release of major films in the summer and created a new genre. Alves would also work on “Tubarão 2” (1978) and direct “Tubarão 3D” (1983). His long list of credits also includes “Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and “New York, 1997” (1981).