Gimbel, Peter

Gimbel, Peter (Robin)

(1928–87) explorer, filmmaker; born in New York City. He served in the U.S. Army of Occupation in Japan (1946–47), and graduated from Yale (1951). After a year at one of the family Gimbel's department stores, he joined his identical twin brother, David Alva Gimbel, in the investment firm White, Well & Co. (1952–60). A deep-sea diver since childhood, Peter became fascinated by the Andrea Doria that sank in 1956; the photographs he took during an exploration of the ship the day after it sank were published in Life magazine (August 6 and 13, 1956). In 1957 and 1958 he became a trustee of the New York Zoological Society and the American Museum of Natural History. In 1959 he also became executive director of Gimbel Brothers' Inc., the family firm. With the sudden death of his brother at age 29, Peter made significant life changes. He quit Wall Street, enrolled in Columbia University to study sciences (1960–62), and devoted himself to the life of an explorer. In 1963, he led an exploration of the uncharted Vilcabamba Range in the Peruvian Andes. He formed the Blue Meridian Company and made the film Blue Water, White Death (1971) about the great white shark. His continued fascination with the allegedly "unsinkable" Andrea Doria led to repeated dives and the films, Mystery of the Andrea Doria (1976) and Andrea Doria: The Final Chapter (1984).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.