Home News Susan Backlinie, actress who played first shark victim in ‘Jaws,’ dies at...

Susan Backlinie, actress who played first shark victim in ‘Jaws,’ dies at 77



Susan Backlinie, an actress and stuntwoman who famously played the first shark attack victim in the opening scene of “Jaws,” has died. She was 77.

Susan’s husband, Harvey Swindall, told TMZ she died at their California home on Saturday morning from a heart attack.

“It is with heartfelt regret to confirm our beloved Susan passed away this morning,” Backlinie’s convention agent, Matthew Templeton, said in a statement. “We would like to thank everyone for their condolences at this time. Please respect the family’s privacy during this difficult time.”

Backlinie made her acting debut in the Steven Spielberg summer classic as Chrissy Watkins, a skinny-dipper who meets an untimely demise in the 1975 blockbuster’s opening sequence.

 

Crew members pulled on cables attached to a pair of jeans Backlinie was wearing and did not inform her when she would be pulled under the water in order to elicit a more genuine reaction, according to fan site The Daily Jaws.

She and Spielberg spoofed the classic scene several years later in “1941” where she is instead terrorized by a Japanese submarine.

She continued to act into the early 1980s, appearing in TV shows and other movies, like “The Great Muppet Caper.” After retiring from acting, she became a computer accountant, according to Variety. However, she still routinely appeared at fan conventions.

More than 40 years after “Jaws” was released, Backlinie was astonished by how much it still resonated with viewers.

“One of the main comments I get from everybody is, ‘You know you kept me out of the water,’” she told the Palm Beach Post in 2017 about encountering fans.

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