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Susan Backlinie, Stuntperson in ‘Jaws,’ Passes Away at 77

Susan Backlinie, known for her role as the first victim of the shark in Steven Spielberg’s iconic film ‘Jaws,’ has died at the age of 77. Backlinie, a nationally ranked swimmer and professional diver, brought the character of Chrissie to life in the unforgettable opening scene of the 1975 thriller.

Backlinie’s performance in ‘Jaws’ was not only memorable but also groundbreaking, showcasing her expertise in water ballet and stunts. Spielberg specifically sought out a stuntperson for the role, recognizing the need for someone who could handle the demanding underwater sequences with ease.

In an interview, Backlinie shared insights into the rigorous filming process, describing how she worked with a harness and wires to simulate the shark attack. Despite the challenges, she dedicated herself to the role, spending three days filming off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.

Beyond ‘Jaws,’ Backlinie had a diverse career in the entertainment industry. She worked as a mermaid at a popular tourist attraction and collaborated with wild animals at Ivan Tors Studios. Her talent and versatility led her to roles in various films and television shows, including ‘1941’ and ‘The Great Muppet Caper.’

Outside of her professional endeavors, Backlinie lived a fulfilling life with her husband, Harvey, residing on a houseboat in Ventura, California. Her legacy as a pioneering stuntperson and actress continues to inspire generations of performers in the film industry.

Credit: Hollywood Reporter

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