Upon entering the mosh pit (a.k.a. the celebrity room at FRIGHT NIGHT) I was worried that there would be a long line to see Susan Backlinie. Not familiar with that name you say? Don’t worry, you have DEFINITELY seen her before. She is the woman who has the dubious distinction of being JAWS‘ first kill. That 70’s “free love” gal who, after receiving a drunken nod from a stranger, quickly sheds her clothes and invites him for a skinny dip. Running playfully down the beach, she dives headfirst into the ocean….and directly onto the dinner plate of cinema’s most famous shark!
Thankfully, Miss Backlinie had a large banner of the movie JAWS behind her and, unlike many of the celebs, was easy to find. Also unlike the other guests I was shocked to see her sitting ALONE! I had assumed that any alumnus from the world’s first blockbuster would have been a draw. After all, this is JAWS we’re talking about! A movie that still stands as one of the greatest films of all time and made “Steven Spielberg” a household name. If someone told me that they had played one of the “extras” on the beach when young Alex Kintner gets devoured, I’d want a picture with them!
Of course I understand we aren’t talking about Richard Dreyfus here but the fact remains that, of all the people in that room, she was the lone actress in one of the most famous scenes in one of the most famous movies of all time!
Instead I see her sitting all by herself with a group of fans fluttering around the cast of REVENGE OF THE NERDS! Call yourselves horror fans!?!
I walked up to Ms Backlinie and she smiled. I then proceeded to tell her how much I loved JAWS and how her scene was so terrifying to me when I first saw it, etc (there was no one there to see her at the time so I figured I could go into an entire prepared speech I had planned in my head). After I finished speaking, she continued smiling while giving me a blank stare…
She then pointed to her ear and said, “I’m sorry?” I guess, it turns out that Ms Backlinie is now about as deaf as a doornail (swimmer’s ear?)! Hopefully she did at least see my enthusiasm if not hear it. Earlier that week I had purchased a big rubber shark from Toys R’ Us and had her sign it. Even that was bit more work than I had planned…
SUSAN: “What’s your name?”
I ended up having to write my name out for her but she was still very pleasant and, lets face it, diminished senses are all part of the aging process. Even if I would have had to resort to sign language, however, it was still an amazing moment standing next to “the gal from JAWS.”