Susan Backlinie first victim in ‘Jaws’ shark attack, dies at 77

 Susan Backlinie first victim in ‘Jaws’ shark attack, dies at 77

CREDIT: Getty/Bobby Bank

Susan Backlinie, renowned for her iconic role as the first shark attack victim in Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws,” has passed away at the age of 77. Sean Clark, the owner of Convention All Stars, where Backlinie was a client, confirmed to Variety that she died following a heart attack at her home in California on Saturday morning.

Backlinie’s memorable portrayal of Chrissie Watkins in “Jaws” left an indelible mark on cinema history. In the 1975 film’s chilling opening scene, her character is tragically dragged underwater by a menacing shark, setting the tone for the movie’s suspenseful narrative.

This role capitalized on Backlinie’s skills as both an expert swimmer and a stunt performer, making her performance especially realistic and terrifying. Beyond her unforgettable appearance in “Jaws,” Backlinie enjoyed a diverse career in the film industry, particularly known for her work as a stuntwoman, told the The New York Times.

She continued to make a splash in Hollywood throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, appearing in a range of films. Notably, she featured in Jim Henson’s “The Great Muppet Caper” (1981) and Spielberg’s own “1941” (1979). In “1941,” she humorously revisited her “Jaws” role in a parody scene, this time encountering a Japanese submarine instead of a shark, showcasing her ability to engage audiences with both dramatic and comedic talent.

Backlinie also contributed to several television series, enhancing shows such as “The Quest,” “Quark,” and “The Fall Guy” with her dynamic presence. Her other film credits include “The Grizzly & the Treasure” (1975), “A Stranger in My Forest” (1976), and “Day of the Animals” (1977), each of which benefited from her unique blend of acting and stunt skills.

Susan Backlinie’s legacy in the entertainment industry is highlighted by her versatility and pioneering contributions to some of cinema’s most thrilling moments. Her work, particularly in “Jaws,” continues to be celebrated by fans and critics alike, ensuring her place in Hollywood history.

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