Goodbye to Susan Blacklinie, the first “victim” of the film “Jaws”. She is the opening scene of Spielberg's 1975 film


By John

Actress Susan Backlinie, who in Steven Spielberg's film was the first victim of Jaws off a New England beach, has died at the age of 77 of a heart attack at her home in California. Agent Sean Clark made this known.

In the film Jaws, based on the 1974 novel of the same name by Peter Benchley, Backlinie, who was also a stunt performer, had the very brief part of Chrissie Watkins, a woman who leaves a late-night party to take a swim in the sea, but is viciously attacked to death by the invisible great white shark in the opening sequences. To create the effect of the woman being pulled underwater by the animal, the actress was tied to a leash anchored to the seabed and deliberately not informed that she would immediately end up underwater to cause her the effect of genuine surprise.

About ten men had pulled the ropes attached to the jeans he was wearing to shoot the scene in the waters of Marthas Vineyard Island off the coast of Massachusetts. In the documentary Jaws: The Inside Story, Spielberg describes the sequence as “one of the most dangerous ever filmed for a stuntman.” The screams of the woman about to be mauled were recorded later.

Actor Richard Dreyfuss, who plays oceanographer Matt Hooper in the film, said the director “made her tilt her head back and scream while pouring water down her throat” – a technique, Dreyfuss said, ” which today would be described as waterboarding.”

After Jaws, which came out in 1975, Susan starred four years later in the war film parody 1941 with John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Ned Beatty: in Spielberg's first comedy her character, instead of a shark, meets a Japanese submarine at sea, a scene hailed as a great comic moment in one of the director's least successful films. In the same years, Blacklinie continued to appear in films such as the horror film Day of the Animals (1977) and, as a dancer in the water, in Jim Henson's Muppet House (1981).