Jaws Star Passes Away

Susan Backlinie, best known for her role as the ill-fated skinny-dipper in Steven Spielberg’s iconic film “Jaws,” has passed away at the age of 77. The actress died in her home on May 11, according to TMZ, though the cause of death has yet to be determined.

Backlinie’s portrayal of Chrissie Watkins in the opening scene of “Jaws” is a landmark moment in cinema history. Released in 1975, Spielberg’s film required a performer with the physical prowess to endure the demanding scene. Backlinie, a former nationally ranked swimmer and professional diver, was an ideal choice for the role.

The filming of the famous skinny-dipping scene spanned three exhausting days. Backlinie was harnessed and pulled back and forth by crew members to mimic the shark’s attack. Her genuine screams and thrashing added a level of realism that captivated audiences worldwide. Before her breakthrough role in “Jaws,” Backlinie had worked as a mermaid at the Weeki Wachee Springs tourist attraction in Florida and as an animal trainer, performing alongside a famous bear. Her Hollywood career began to take off when she impressed Spielberg with her courage and water expertise while filming with a tiger in Canada for “Jaws.”

Following her unforgettable debut in “Jaws,” Backlinie continued to work in the film industry. She appeared in movies such as “Two-Minute Warning” (1976), “Day of the Animals” (1977), and “The Great Muppet Caper” (1981). She also reprised a version of her famous skinny-dipping scene in Spielberg’s 1979 spoof “1941,” this time encountering an enemy submarine instead of a shark.

Despite her numerous roles, Susan Backlinie will always be remembered for her performance in “Jaws.” Her portrayal left an indelible mark on audiences, making swimmers everywhere think twice before venturing into the ocean. The fear she instilled with her performance contributed to “Jaws” becoming the first real blockbuster in cinematic history.

Backlinie’s legacy extends beyond her role in “Jaws.” Her work as a performer and stuntwoman showcased her exceptional skills and dedication to her craft. Her contributions to the film industry, particularly her iconic scene in “Jaws,” will continue to be celebrated by fans and filmmakers alike.

Rest in peace, Susan Backlinie. Your unforgettable performance and pioneering spirit will be remembered always.