Susan Backlinie, an actress and stuntwoman best known for playing the first victim of the shark in Jaws, has died at age 77. She passed away at her home in Ventura, California, on Saturday. Matthew Templeton, her convention agent, confirmed the news to The Daily Jaws, expressing heartfelt regret and requesting privacy for her family during this difficult time.

Backlinie gained fame for her role as Chrissie Watkins in Steven Spielberg’s 1975 film Jaws, where she played the skinny-dipping victim of the shark. At the time, she was a 28-year-old nationally ranked swimmer and professional diver. Prior to her iconic role, Backlinie worked with animals and water, performing as a mermaid at Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs tourist attraction and working with various wild animals.

She pursued her first movie role knowing that her unique skills would appeal to Spielberg, who preferred her for the close-up stunts that an actress might not perform. Spielberg praised her capabilities in Laurent Bouzerau’s book Spielberg: The First Ten Years, noting that Backlinie was perfectly suited for the task.

In a 2017 interview, Backlinie recalled Spielberg’s instructions before filming the famous scene, aiming to leave a lasting impression on the audience. Many have paid tribute to Backlinie on social media, emphasizing her significant role in Jaws and her impact on the film community.

Jeffrey Kramer, a fellow Jaws cast member, described her as a loving and kind person who will be dearly missed by the Jaws community. Fans have honored her legacy, with one noting her memorable scene and another recognizing her as a “scream queen legend” and “class act.”

One tribute highlighted how her role inspired a lifelong passion for studying great white sharks, showcasing her lasting influence. Backlinie will be remembered for her iconic role as the first victim of the great white shark in Jaws, leaving an indelible mark on film history.