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Susan Backlinie, First Victim in 'Jaws', Dead at 77

By    |   Monday, 13 May 2024 11:30 AM EDT

Susan Backlinie, who famously played the first shark attack victim in Steven Spielberg's 1975 film "Jaws," has died at age 77.

The actor's agent, Matthew Templeton, confirmed her death in a statement to The Daily Jaws Saturday.

"It is with heartfelt regret to confirm our beloved Susan passed away this morning. We would like to thank everyone for their condolences at this time. Please respect the family's privacy during this difficult time," Templeton said.

Backlinie was 28 when she was cast as Chrissie Watkins, who gets attacked by a shark after going skinny dipping, in the film, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Prior to her acting gig, she worked as a professional diver who ranked nationally and as a swimmer as well as an animal trainer while also performing as a mermaid.

"I didn't want an actor to do it. I wanted a stuntperson because I needed somebody who was great in the water, who knew water ballet and knew how to endure what I imagined was going to be a whole lot of violent shaking," Spielberg said in the 2023 book "Spielberg: The First Ten Years" by Laurent Bouzereau, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "So, I went to stunts to find her, and Susan was up to the challenge."

In a 2017 interview with The Palm Beach Post, Backlinie recalled, "The first thing [Spielberg] said to me was, 'When your scene is done, I want everyone under the seats with the popcorn and bubblegum.'"

According to Bouzereau's book, the scene took three days to film. Backlinie, wearing a harness, was pulled by five crew members from each side to depict a shark dragging her into the ocean.

In addition to her role in "Jaws," Backlinie appeared in films such as "A Stranger in the Forest" (1976), "Two-Minute Warning" (1976), and "The Great Muppet Caper" (1981). She was married to William Seal.

"Susan was a kind soul and loving soul and will be sorely missed by the 'Jaws' community," "Jaws" star Jeffrey Kramer told The Daily Jaws. "She has a special place in our hearts."

Zoe Papadakis

Zoe Papadakis is a Newsmax writer based in South Africa with two decades of experience specializing in media and entertainment. She has been in the news industry as a reporter, writer and editor for newspapers, magazine and websites.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


TheWire
Susan Backlinie, who famously played the first shark attack victim in Steven Spielberg's 1975 film "Jaws," has died at age 77. The actor's convention agent, Matthew Templeton, confirmed her death in a statement to The Daily Jaws Saturday.
susan backlinie, jaws, victim, dead
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2024-30-13
Monday, 13 May 2024 11:30 AM
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