Susan Backlinie dead: “Jaws” actor was 77 years old

Susan Backlinie, who played the first shark attack victim in Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, has died. She was 77.

Backlinie died of a heart attack at her home in California on Saturday morning, Convention All Stars owner Sean Clark confirmed Diversity. The former actress and stuntwoman was one of the company’s customers.

Backlinie is best known for her role as Chrissie Watkins in Jaws, who is dragged to her death by a killer shark in the 1975 film’s iconic opening scene. Backlinie specializes in swimming work as a stunt performer.

Contrary to popular belief, Backlinie’s screams of fear in the opening scene of Jaws were not due to her being injured by the harness that was jerking her back and forth. However, no one warned Backlinie when she would be dragged underwater to get a real reaction from her.

diversityThe Jaws review said of the shark attack sequences: “The fast-paced 124-minute film creates enormous tension as the shark attacks a series of people; The creature isn’t even seen for about 82 minutes, and subjective camera technique makes his earlier forays into invisibility all the more terrifying.”

Backlinie was born on September 1, 1946. In addition to her work as an actress and stunt performer, Backlinie was also a former animal trainer. After retiring from acting, Backlinie worked as a computer accountant in Ventura, California.

Until the early 1980s, Backlinie appeared in a few films, most notably the Jim Henson-directed film The Great Muppet Caper (1981) and Spielberg’s 1941 (1979). She appeared in the Jaws parody scene in 1941, where she encounters a Japanese submarine instead of a great white shark.

Backlinie also appeared in several television series, including “The Quest,” “Quark,” and “The Fall Guy.” Other film appearances include “The Grizzly and the Treasure” (1975), “A Stranger in My Woods” (1976) and “Animal Day” (1977).

Backlinie is survived by her husband, Harvey Swindall.