Susan Backlinie dead: First victim in Jaws opening scene dies aged 77 after heart attack

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The first victim in the 1975 blockbuster Jaws has died aged 77

Susan Backlinie, who was the first victim in the 1975 blockbuster Jaws, has died aged 77. Her husband, Harvey Swindall told TMZ that Backlinie passed away from heart attack on Saturday morning (May 11) at her home in Ventura, California.

Backlinie started her acting career in 1975 with the role Chrissie Watkins in Steven Spielberg’s shark-themed film. She portrayed the woman who skinny dips in the ocean during the opening scene, facing a brutal encounter with the shark before she is eaten alive.

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This particular scene, along with Susan's portrayal, achieved iconic status as the movie became Hollywood's inaugural blockbuster, effectively putting people off from swimming in the ocean.

Steven Spielberg at the Jaws set in 1974Steven Spielberg at the Jaws set in 1974
Steven Spielberg at the Jaws set in 1974

The filming of the scene spanned a couple of days, during which Susan recalled the chilling temperatures of the water in a recent interview. Despite the discomfort, her love for Jaws was evident, having watched the film extensively.

Following her role in Jaws, Backlinie pursued a career in stunt work across various films and television productions, including The Great Muppet Caper, Day of the Animals and the series The Fall Guy. However, it was her unforgettable performance in Jaws that made her a fan favourite at film conventions.

Susan is survived by her husband, Harvey, who told the gossip outlet she was “the most amazing person he’d ever met” and that he “will miss her very much.”

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