HomeTop Headlines"Jaws" Stunt Actress Dies at 77

“Jaws” Stunt Actress Dies at 77

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Acclaimed actress and stuntwoman Susan Backlinie, best known for her role in the blockbuster film “Jaws,” passed away at her residence in Ventura, California, on Saturday, May 11. She was 77.

Matthew Templeton, her convention agent, and Harvey Swindall, her husband, confirmed her death, noting she suffered a heart attack.

In a statement, Templeton conveyed the sadness experienced by those close to Backlinie. “It is with sincere regret to confirm that our beloved Susan passed away this morning,” he said. He further requested respect for the family’s privacy during this time and acknowledged the many expressions of sympathy received.

Backlinie’s acting career started in 1975 with her role in Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws,” where she played Chrissie Watkins. Her character’s fatal ocean swim encounter with a shark in the film’s opening scene not only became a signature moment of the movie but also signaled the onset of Hollywood’s blockbuster era. The scene fostered a newfound wariness towards ocean swimming among many viewers.

Shooting the iconic scene took two days. Notwithstanding her repeated viewings and fondness for the film, in an interview last year, Backlinie recalled filming in the freezing ocean water.

Backlinie’s association with Spielberg extended beyond “Jaws.” She collaborated with him again in “1941,” a film that parodied her famous scene but did not gain equivalent recognition.

After “Jaws,” Backlinie shifted her focus to stunt work, contributing to numerous film and television projects. Her notable roles include “The Great Muppet Caper,” “Day of the Animals,” and the TV series “The Fall Guy.” Despite her diverse work, her role in “Jaws” remained her most recognized, particularly among convention attendees where she was a much-admired figure.

Susan Backlinie is survived by her husband Harvey. Her legacy is defined by a scene in “Jaws” that not only captured the attention of audiences but also symbolized a turning point in cinematic history.

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