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The Jaws Actors You May Not Know Passed Away

"Jaws" is, inarguably, one of the most iconic films of all time. Not only was the 1975 film a blockbuster hit, making a whopping $260 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo), it received numerous award nominations following its release. 

Directed by a then-unknown Steven Spielberg, "Jaws" follows the police chief of a summer resort town, Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), as he hunts down the great white shark attacking swimmers. Brody takes on the massive task by teaming up with marine biologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and professional shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw). From the Oscar-winning — and now easily recognizable — score to a fantastic script, complete with one of the most quoted movie lines of all time (there's a little line about needing a bigger boat) "Jaws" excelled in just about every aspect.

Quite a few decades have passed since the release of "Jaws." In fact, the thriller film will be turning 47 this year, meaning it is just a few years away from its big 50th anniversary. The fact that it's been almost half a century since "Jaws" came out only makes it all the more impressive that it has held up just about perfectly over the years. However, it also means that some of the cast members who brought this captivating story to life are no longer with us.

For those curious, here are the "Jaws" actors that you may not have known passed away.

Roy Scheider

Roy Scheider starred in "Jaws" as Martin Brody, the police chief in charge of saving the town from the ruthless great white shark of the local waters. In a 2008 interview with journalist Paul Iorio, which was eventually published in the Huffington Post in 2017, Scheider discussed his experience working on "Jaws," including how he and his co-stars brought their palpable chemistry to the screen. Scheider said, "What happened was, [Robert] Shaw, [Richard] Dreyfuss and Scheider turned into a little rep company. And all those scenes, instead of just pushing the plot along, became golden in developing the characters. So when the crisis came, you really cared about those three guys."

Scheider died in 2008 at the age of 75, as his New York Times obituary reports. His wife, Brenda Siemer Scheider, confirmed that the actor died from a staph infection, which was a result of him having multiple myeloma (a cancer of plasma cells), which he had been dealing with for several years prior.

Scheider's film legacy went far beyond "Jaws" — the actor is also known for starring as detective "Cloudy" Russo in 1971's "French Connection" and as choreographer and film director Joe Gideon in 1979's "All That Jazz," both of which earned him Academy Award nominations. Later in his career, he had a six episode arc in the TV drama "Third Watch" and appeared in films such as 2007's "Hearts of War" and 2009's "Iron Cross," the latter of which was his last role before he died (via IMDb).

Robert Shaw

Robert Shaw starred alongside Roy Schieder as the professional shark hunter, Quint, who helps Chief Brody in hunting down the shark. Quint plays a vital role in the eventual takedown of the shark but unfortunately doesn't make it out alive, in what is easily one of the most shocking movie moments ever. In 2011, Steven Spielberg spoke with Entertainment Weekly about assembling his cast for "Jaws," including casting Shaw as Quint after first going to two other actors. Spielberg told EW, "Casting sometimes is fate and destiny more than skill and talent, from a director's point of view." He saw a number of actors for the part, and "Then finally David Brown, who had just worked with Robert Shaw on 'The Sting,' and said, 'What about Robert Shaw?' I said, 'David, you're a genius!' And Robert said yes."

Just three years after the release of "Jaws," Shaw died in Ireland near his home in 1978, at the age of 52, as reported by The Washington Post. A police spokesman told the Post that Shaw "became ill" while driving with his wife and young son, before reportedly stopping out and getting out of the car at the side of the road, where he then died.

Alongside "Jaws," Shaw was also known for his roles in 1966's "A Man for All Seasons," for which he received an Oscar nod, 1973's "The Sting," 1963's "From Russia With Love" and 1977's "Black Sunday." As well as being an actor, Shaw was also a writer and penned five novels and three plays in his lifetime, as the Washington Post obituary notes. Shaw was also working on a sixth novel when he died.

Lee Fierro

In "Jaws," Lee Fierro played Mrs. Kintner, the mother of one of the victims of the shark attacks. In one scene, Mrs. Kitner slaps Chief Brody in the face for deciding to keep the beaches open after the first attack, which ultimately led to the attack on her son. In the emotional scene, Mrs. Kitner says, "I just found out that a girl got killed here last week and you knew, you knew there was a shark out there. You knew it was dangerous, but you let people go swimming anyway. You knew all those things and still my boy is dead now, and there's nothing you can do about it. My boy is dead."

Fiero returned to the role in 1987's "Jaws: The Revenge." As reported by Variety, Fierro served as a drama teacher at the Island Theatre Workshop in Martha's Vineyard, where she served as artistic director for 25 years and mentored numerous aspiring actors. Fierro was working as Island Theatre Workshop when she acted in "Jaws."

Fierro died in 2020 from complications of COVID at the age of 91. The Workshop's current artistic director and board president Kevin Ryan told Boston.com, "I would still call Lee and workshop over the phone with her. She was fully involved for a full 40-plus years."

Peter Benchley

If you're a "Jaws" fan, then you're probably thinking that Peter Benchley is not an actor of "Jaws" — because Benchley is the one who wrote the book that "Jaws" is based on, and he also co-wrote the film's screenplay with Carl Gottlieb. However, if you're a "Jaws" superfan, then you know that Benchley actually has a cameo in the film as a TV reporter, meaning that he is technically an actor of "Jaws." 

In the cameo, Benchley appears in front of a crowded beach and says, "A cloud has appeared on the horizon of this beautiful resort community, a cloud in the shape of a killer shark."

Benchley died in 2006 at the age of 65, as reported by Variety. Benchley's wife, Wendy, confirmed that the author's death was due to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive scarring of the lungs. Prior to becoming a bestselling author, Benchley worked as a journalist and as a speechwriter for President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Variety piece also notes that Wendy Benchley was most proud of her husband's conservation works, including serving on the counsel of the Environmental Defense and writing for National Geographic. Wendy Benchley added, "He cared very much about sharks. He spent most of his life trying to explain to people that if you are in the ocean, you're in the shark's territory, so it behooves you to take precautions."