Larry Vaughn is a supporting character in the 1975 natural horror film Jaws and its sequel, Jaws 2. He was the well-meaning and caring, but unwise mayor of Amity Island in all film appearances and was partly responsible for the deaths of swimmers to great white sharks terrorizing Amity Waters.
Mayor Vaughn was born and raised on Amity Island, where he married and started a family, whose only seen member is his son, Larry Vaughn, Jr. He eventually became mayor of Amity Island, a job he held for the remainder of his life.
Mayor Larry Vaughn lived on Amity Island, where he took his job very seriously. After a killer shark in the area had killed its first victim, Vaughn caught Deputy Jeff Hendricks running down the street with sign-making equipment, and was informed of the shark attack. Backed by the medical examiner's change of mind to thinking a boat killed the victim, Vaughn and the rest of the town council stopped Chief Martin Brody, the local police chief, from closing the beaches, Vaughn attempting to convince him he was acting hastily. After the shark killed the second victim, Vaughn, Brody, and the council called a public conference to inform the public as to how they would deal with the shark. After dismissing any talk about the reward offered by the recent victim's mother for the shark, Vaughn gave the spotlight to Brody. After it was announced that the beaches would be closed, Vaughn added for a day, and quickly had his attention drawn, along with everyone else, to the back of the room by Quint, a locally known professional shark hunter, who told them that he would use his prowess to kill the shark and help the economic success of the island's tourism return for $10,000, valuing his life at no less. Vaughn, still processing his speech, thanked Quint for his offer and said it would be taken under advisement. After some local fishermen had caught a large tiger shark, rare for the waters, Vaughn was among the ones to believe the problem was solved but was introduced to Matt Hooper, an oceanographer and shark expert who had doubt about it being the right shark. Informed of this, Vaughn refused to allow the shark to be cut open in front of the public.
After later confirming the tiger shark was not the man-eater and losing a discovered shark tooth belonging to a great white shark, Hooper and Brody approached Vaughn and beseeched him to close the beaches. With the town's best interests at heart, Vaughn refused to close the beaches as it would ruin the town's economy, but empowered Brody and Hooper to do whatever was necessary to make them safe. Somewhat annoyed, but not complaining about the extreme protection measures that Brody and Hooper took, Vaughn managed to get people to swim when no one was but looked on in discomfort when two kids pulled a prank, and the shark devoured a man, causing Brody's son Michael to nearly drown. Later at the hospital Vaughn was confronted by Brody, who he gave sincere apologies to about his bad choices, before being persuaded to sign a payment order, allowing Brody to hire Quint to kill the shark. He is not seen again for the remainder of the film.
Three years after the events of Jaws, the island's economic success had returned and a new hotel had been built. Vaughn appeared at the opening ceremony, orchestrating the event, and later greeting Chief Martin Brody when he arrives and introducing his son to the builder of the new hotel, Len Peterson. Days later, Brody came to Vaughn and informed him of his suspicions about another shark problem. Refusing to believe the same problem could happen twice, Vaughn told Brody to be realistic as there was no evidence of a shark and no proof. When Brody continued to press the issue, Vaughn ended the conversation, warning him not to press the matter that time. Later irritated to see Brody in his observation platform looking for a shark, Vaughn alerted the mutually irritated Peterson, who he tried to play the situation by ear with when people began to notice Brody. When Brody saw a school of bluefish and started a public panic, in which he emptied his pistol into the bluefish in the belief of it to be a shark, Vaughn was disappointed and lost for words. Later that night, when Brody showed up at a town council meeting, Vaughn and the other council members looked at a photo he had with him, which Vaughn did not recognize. When Brody stated it was a shark, Vaughn was the only council member not to dismiss his claim but said it could be anything given the dark quality of the picture. When Brody lost his cool thanks to Peterson's rude and unnecessary remarks, Vaughn politely told Brody to sit down, while they made up their own minds about the picture in private. The council still ultimately refused to believe the photo is a shark and the council fired Brody, with Vaughn being the only member to vote against his dismissal. He is not seen again for the rest of the film.
Mayor Larry Vaughn died after the events of Jaws 2, but before the start of Jaws: The Revenge. The circumstances of his death are unknown, but his absence during the film when his actor, Murray Hamilton, who was scheduled to reprise, died before its making proved his death.
The fact that he held the position of mayor for so long proved that Larry Vaughn was very good at his job. As mayor, Vaughn was the most powerful member of the town council, with all major decisions made final by him. Despite his skill at his job Vaughn was unwise on the subject of natural threats, having made bad choices in the original film regarding the shark, him making none in the sequel due to the shark's presence being unproven during all his appearances in the film.
Vaughn took his job as Mayor very seriously, always keeping the town's welfare and best interests at heart and on his mind. Despite meaning well, Vaughn was unwise when it came to dealing with natural threats, having refused to close the beaches when the shark was not caught, which led to the deaths of a boating class teacher, and ultimately Quint, who Vaughn allowed to be hired to kill the shark though the latter was the best choice for the job and a professional shark hunter, validating Vaughn's decision regarding him. Vaughn was a good man, in that he was very friendly to others, but he was also very stubborn.