Death of Actor Who Played the First Victim in ‘Jaws’

Susan Backlinie, the actress known for her unforgettable opening death scene in the movie “Jaws,” passed away in California on Saturday. Her agent confirmed the news of her death, stating that she suffered a heart attack. Susan Backlinie was 77 years old at the time of her passing.

In Steven Spielberg’s spine-tingling film, released in 1975, Chrissie from Backlinie’s character emerges from a beach campfire gathering at twilight. She decides to go skinny-dipping with an intoxicated companion who humorously collapses on the sand. However, her carefree swim is abruptly disrupted when a great white shark seizes her, dragging her down into the depths while she writhes and screams in terror.

According to Variety, Backlinie, a stuntwoman and former nationally ranked swimmer, was said to have been tethered to the ocean floor and manipulated with ropes by the crew. Interestingly, she was not given a heads up about her initial submersion in order to elicit a more authentic reaction.

In an interview with The Palm Beach Post, Backlinie shared Spielberg’s directive during the making of the film: “When your scene is done, I want everyone under the seats with the popcorn and bubble gum.”

“I believe we have accomplished that,” she stated.

In 2017, Susan Backlinie revealed that she had carried out Steven Spielberg’s instructions to frighten moviegoers from beneath their theater seats.

Backlinie made additional appearances in Hollywood films such as “The Great Muppet Caper” (1981) and Spielberg’s war comedy “1941” (1979). In the latter, she even humorously parodied her famous shark attack scene.

She appeared on various television shows throughout her career, including “The Quest” (1976), “Quark” (1978), and “The Fall Guy” (1982).

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