'Jaws' star Roy Scheider dies aged 75

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The Independent Culture

Roy Scheider, a two-time Oscar nominee best known for his role as the police chief in the blockbuster Jaws, has died, it was announced today.

Scheider, 75, died at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences hospital in Little Rock.

The hospital did not release a cause of death but spokeswoman Leslie Taylor said Scheider had been treated for multiple myeloma at the hospital's Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy for the past two years.

He was nominated for an Oscar for best-supporting actor in 1971's The French Connection, in which he played the police partner of Oscar winner Gene Hackman and for best actor for 1979's All That Jazz, the autobiographical Bob Fosse film.

But he was best known for his role in Steven Spielberg's 1975 film, Jaws, the enduring classic about a killer shark terrorising beachgoers - and millions of film fans.

Widely hailed as the film that launched the era of the Hollywood blockbuster, it was also the first movie to earn 100 million dollars (£52.5m) at the box office. Scheider starred with Richard Dreyfuss, who played an oceanographer.

In 2005, one of Scheider's most famous lines in the movie - "You're gonna need a bigger boat" - was voted No 35 on the American Film Institute's list of best quotes from US movies.

That year, some 30 years after Jaws premiered, hundreds of movie buffs flocked to Martha's Vineyard, off the south-eastern coast of Massachusetts, to celebrate the great white shark.

The island's JawsFest 05 also brought back some of the cast and crew, including screenwriter Carl Gottlieb and Peter Benchley, who wrote the novel that inspired Spielberg's classic. Spielberg, Scheider and Dreyfuss were absent.

Scheider was also politically active. He participated in rallies protesting over US military action in Iraq, including a massive New York demonstration in March 2003 that police said drew 125,000 chanting activists.

"He was a wonderful guy. He was what I call 'a knockaround actor'," Jaws co-star Dreyfuss said today.

"A knockaround actor to me is a compliment that means a professional that lives the life of a professional actor and doesn't yell and scream at the fates and does his job and does it as well as he can," he said.

Dreyfuss recalled a time during the filming of Jaws when Scheider disappeared from the set. As the filming was on hold because of the weather, Scheider "called me up and said, 'You don't know where I am if they call'.

"He'd gone to get a tan. He was really very tan-addicted. That was due to a childhood affliction where he was in bed for a long time. For him being tan was being healthy," Dreyfuss said.

He said Scheider "was a pretty civilised human being - you can't ask for much more than that".