Susan Backlinie

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Susan Backlinie
Born Susan Jane Swindall
(1946-09-01) September 1, 1946 (age 71)
Ventura, California
Occupation Actress, stuntwoman
Years active 1973–1981
Notable work Christine "Chrissie" Watkins in Peter Benchley's Jaws (1975)
Spouse(s) William Seale (?–present)
Monty Cox (?–?)

Susan Backlinie (born Susan Jane Swindall on September 1, 1946) is a former actress and stuntwoman.[1] She is known for her role as Chrissie Watkins, the first shark victim in Steven Spielberg's 1975 blockbuster Jaws.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Along with being a stuntwoman specializing in swimming work, she was also an animal trainer.[2] She currently works as a computer accountant in her birthplace of Ventura, California.


Backlinie's appearance in Jaws took three days to shoot, with Backlinie strapped into a harness while the crew struggled to get the desired effects.[3] Backlinie also appeared in Spielberg's film 1941 parodying her role in Jaws.[2] Instead of being attacked by a shark during a midnight swim, she's "picked up" by the periscope of a Japanese submarine.[4] The scene has been described as the best joke in what is otherwise widely considered one of Spielberg's least successful films.[5] Backlinie also appeared in the 1977 film Day of the Animals, regarded by some as a Jaws clone about nature gone bad.[6]

When Jaws co-star Richard Dreyfuss saw a daily of her performance of being attacked by the shark, he told her it absolutely terrified him.[7]

Originally, the shot of the shark attack in which Backlinie was involved had to be shot several times, because she was unable to produce the intended reaction. Therefore, the next filming day, the attack scene was shot again, only this time, Backlinie was not told when she would be "attacked". When the diver below her grabbed onto and pulled her leg, submerging her, she gave a genuine scared reaction, and the shot was left in the final product, as it was exactly what Spielberg was looking for.[8]


Year Film Role Notes
1975 Jaws Chrissie Watkins
The Grizzly and the Treasure Eve
1976 A Stranger in My Forest unknown
Two-Minute Warning Pretty blonde woman in crowd (uncredited)
1977 Day of the Animals Mandy Young
1979 1941 Polar Bear Woman
1981 The Great Muppet Caper Charkie's Water Ballet Performer
Year Title Role Notes
1976 The Quest Girl in Brawl (1 episode)
1978 Quark Guard #1 (2 episodes)
1982 The Fall Guy Tammy (1 episode)


She appeared in her own pictorial ("The Lady and the Lion") in the January 1973 issue of Penthouse magazine.


  1. ^ "Susan Backlinie Biography". IMDb. Retrieved 29 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Tom Russo, "'Jaws': Shark tale still has plenty of bite", The Boston Globe, August 4, 2012.
  3. ^ Andrews, Nigel (1999). Nigel Andrews on Jaws: A Bloomsbury Movie Guide. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. p. 45. ISBN 978-1582340425. 
  4. ^ Fischer, Dennis (2000). Science Fiction Film Directors, 1895-1998. McFarland & Company. p. 557. ISBN 978-0786460915. 
  5. ^ Brode, Douglas (2000). The Films of Steven Spielberg. Citadel Press. pp. 84–86. ISBN 978-0806519517. 
  6. ^ Gambin, Lee (4 March 2018). "Feeling the Fury of Mother Nature: Andrew Stevens Remembers Day of the Animals (1977)". Diabolique Magazine. Retrieved 17 May 2018. 
  7. ^ Sturrock, Staci (20 June 2015). "'Jaws' first victim: She went to Forest Hill High!". My Palm Beach Post. GateHouse Media, LLC. Retrieved 17 May 2018. 
  8. ^ Osborne, Hannah (31 May 2015). "Jaws 40th Anniversary: 40 facts about Spielberg's infamous shark movie and Great Whites". IB Times. Retrieved 17 May 2018. 

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