Roy Scheider would have turned 80 years old today. When he died in 2008, Obit Mag remembered his career. Originally published February 2008 on Obit-Mag.com.
, the actor best known for playing the police chief of the fictional resort town Amity Island in Stephen Spielberg's 1975 breakthrough film Jaws
, died Sunday, February 10 at the age of 75. He was a classic cinematic everyman, whose expressive eyes conveyed sympathetic emotion that was often surrogate for the audience's own. Scheider had been battling multiple myeloma for several years.
Roy Scheider in 2007 (Wikimedia Commons/Lukasz Figura)
Scheider's breakout role was in Klute as Jane Fonda's wiry pimp in 1971. The same year, he stood out as Gene Hackman's less manic partner in The French Connection. Scheider earned one of his two Oscar nominations for the role.
Following the success of Jaws, Scheider was offered the lead role in the Vietnam movie, The Deer Hunter, but had to turn it down to fulfill his contract with Universal for a sequel for Jaws, much-maligned Jaws 2. That lead role, of course, went to Robert DeNiro.
But Scheider was never shied from cinematic challenges. He was classically trained in theatre and surprised audiences with his litheness and levity in the 1979 Bob Fosse biopic, All that Jazz. He earned his second Oscar nod for this role, this time for Best Actor.
In his later years, Scheider returned to the stage and gave a handful of memorable performances, particularly in Harold Pinter's "Betrayal." He settled in Sag Harbor on Long Island and became increasingly vocal about his opposition to the war in Iraq.
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