First shark victim in 1975 Jaws film dies aged 77

The original poster for Steven Spielberg's 1975 blockbuster Jaws Credit: Universal Pictures

The first victim of the monstrous shark in the 1975 blockbuster movie Jaws has died aged 77.

Former actress and stuntwoman Susan Backlinie played swimmer Chrissie Watkins, who was taken by the great white shark while skinny dippy at night.

The scene featured Ms Backlinie running along the beach at night, flinging off her clothes before jumping into the seeming calm waters for a midnight swim where she becomes the first victim of the beast below.

The scene took three days to shoot during which Ms Backlinie was strapped to a harness attached to ropes that were pulled by crew members to achieve the desired effect of her flailing about in the water at the mercy of the huge fish.

Her initial gasps of surprise were genuine as she was not told she would be pulled underwater.

Backlinie also appeared in Spielberg's film 1941 parodying her role in Jaws where, instead of being attacked by a shark during, she's "picked up" by the periscope of a Japanese submarine.

Ms Backlinie died on Saturday May 11, 2024 at her home in Ventura, California, her agent confirmed to the Daily Jaws.

“It is with heartfelt regret to confirm our beloved Susan passed away this morning. We would like to thank everyone for their condolences at this time. Please respect the family’s privacy during this difficult time," agent Matthew Templeton told The Daily Jaws.

Jaws co-star Jeffrey Kramer paid tribute to Ms Backlinie: "Susan was a kind, soul and loving soul and will be sorely missed by the Jaws community. She has a special place in our hearts!"

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