Monday, February 11, 2008

A little part of me just died

Actor Roy Scheider Dies at 75

Actor Roy Scheider, a two-time Oscar nominee best known for his leading role as the water-phobic police chief in the smash blockbuster Jaws, died Sunday in Little Rock, Arkansas, at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences hospital; he was 75. Though an official cause of death was not released at press time, a hospital spokeswoman stated that the actor had been treated for multiple myeloma at the hospital's research center for the past two years. Born in New Jersey, Scheider pursued a career in boxing before turning to acting, and won an Obie award for his work with the New York Shakespeare Festival in the late '60s. His first major film appearances also began in the late '60s in such movies as Star! and Paper Lion, and it was in 1971 that he truly gained fame for his roles two popular thrillers, Klute and The French Connection; the latter earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. However, it was his role four years later in the Steven Spielberg thriller Jaws for which he became most well-known, playing a local lawman in a tourist beach town who must contend with the sudden appearance of a great white shark; his line, "You're gonna need a bigger boat," became one of the most well-known lines in contemporary film. Scheider also appeared in the ill-fated sequel Jaws 2 (after dropping out of the lead role in The Deer Hunter and in order to be let out of his Universal Studios contract) and the thriller Marathon Man before embarking on his most acclaimed performance, that of Broadway director and choreographer Joe Gideon in Bob Fosse's All That Jazz. The role, closely based on Fosse's life, brought Scheider his second Academy Award nomination in 1979, this time for Best Actor. Though none of Scheider's later films would reach the heights of his movies from the '70s, he continued to work steadily in both film and television, with diverse roles in such films as Still Of The Night, Blue Thunder, 2010, The Russia House, Naked Lunch, The Peacekeeper, The Myth Of Fingerprints (for which he received an Independent Spirit Award nomination) and the TV series SeaQuest DSV and Third Watch. Scheider is survived by his three children and his second wife, actress Brenda King.

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Roy was quite a nontraditional actor. He wasn't your normal leading man, yet he found himself in some of the biggest films around. I'll remember him best as Popeye Doyle's partner in The French Connection. The last thing I saw him in was The Punisher as Frank Castle's dad. The acting world has just lost one of it's best. I feel as if one of my very old friends has past away. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family as another great man finds his way home.


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