Roy Scheider, the reluctant hero of Spielberg's 'Jaws', dies at 75

Roy Scheider, the American actor best known for his portrayal of the reluctantly heroic police chief in Steven Spielberg's Jaws, has died at the age of 75.

The two-time Oscar nominee died in hospital on Sunday evening in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he had been undergoing treatment for cancer over the past two years.

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences hospital did not release a cause of death but it said Scheider had been treated for multiple myeloma, a cancer of the body's plasma cells.

Although best known for his portrayal of Chief Brody, the ocean-fearing police chief tasked with hunting down the fearsome great white shark of Spielberg's creation, Scheider was known to be somewhat uncomfortable with the cult following Jaws had created among his fans once lamenting that the role "will be on my tombstone."

The New York-born actor starred in more than 60 films during his 40-year career, with most of his most critically acclaimed work in the Seventies. He was nominated for a best-supporting actor Oscar in 1971's The French Connection in which he played the police partner of the Oscar winner Gene Hackman and for best actor for 1979's All That Jazz, the autobiographical Bob Fosse film that Scheider later said was his favourite film.

Yesterday fellow Jaws actor Richard Dreyfuss paid tribute to his co-star. "He was a wonderful guy. He was what I call a 'knockaround' actor," Dreyfuss said on Sunday. 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.

Scheider is survived by his wife, Brenda and his three children.

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