Scream Horror Magazine


Posted on: May 22nd, 2024

She kicked off a horror classic in a terrifying way. However, we’re very saddened to report that Jaws actress Susan Blacklinie has died.

Before becoming the first on-screen victim of Bruce the Shark, Blacklinie was a Florida native who excelled at swimming. This, combined with her natural beauty, got her a job working as a mermaid for a local water park in the early 1970s.

Following a move to California, Blacklinie was scouted by Penthouse magazine, where she was known as “the girl with the lion.” The nude pictorial featured a very real big cat, and was the first hint of the actress’ game nature when it came to danger.

The following year, Blacklinie would send one of her Penthouse photos to the Universal Studios casting department, where she was promptly brought to the attention of Steven Spielberg. Upon meeting Blacklinie, Spielberg said it was her willingness to face unknown danger that won her the role of Chrissie Watkins.

During a three-day shoot, Blacklinie was strapped to a harness that would drag her violently across the ocean’s surface, mimicking the movements of a pouncing shark. Despite persistent rumours to the contrary, the actress maintains she was not harmed during the arduous process.

Her death throes were allegedly so terrifying, that co-star Richard Dreyfuss couldn’t bring himself to finish watching the dailies. It was this visceral reaction that convinced Spielberg to open the film with Chrissie’s demise, thus creating horror history.

Following her iconic turn in Jaws, Blacklinie would continue to pose for magazines and snag television roles. Although she didn’t have a prolific feature career, she did appear prominently in 1977’s Jaws copycat Day of the Animals. This was followed by a memorable turn in Spielberg’s 1979 offering 1941. Here, the actress parodied her iconic Jaws role, once again taking a midnight swim. However, this time she is disturbed by a Russian submarine, and promptly yanked inside.

Other work as a stunt performer and animal trainer would follow for Blacklinie, until 1983 when she retreated from the spotlight. In the following years, she would regularly discuss her role in Jaws on television and in retrospective documentaries. As the film continued to endure, Blacklinie embraced her horror icon status, and regularly appeared at several horror conventions yearly.

Susan died at her home in Ventura, California on May 11th 2024 of a sudden heart attack. She is survived by her husband Harvey Swindall, and was 77 years old.

Rest in peace, Susan.

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