Roy Scheider, to this day, is still fondly remembered as Police Chief Martin Brody in “Jaws” and Joe Gideon in “All That Jazz.” Here is a quick look at the life and death of one of Hollywood’s most versatile actors.
Scheider was born on November 10, 1932, in Orange, New Jersey. According to the Television Academy website, he was a sickly child but turned out to be very athletic in his teenage years.
Roy Scheider poses on Sunset Blvd during a 1987 West Hollywood, California, photo portrait session | Photo: Getty Images
Scheider not only played baseball, but he also participated in swimming and competed in a New Jersey Golden Gloves boxing competition, which left him with his signature off-kilter nose.
“A knock-around actor to me is a compliment that means a professional that lives the life of a professional”
Acting was not exactly the first thing Scheider ventured into. He did a three-year stint in the Air Force after graduating with a degree in history from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Scheider reportedly intended to go to law school, but after his time in the Force, he returned to Franklin and Marshall to star in a production of “Richard III.” That was the start of a new era.
Per the Hollywood Reporter, Scheider’s performance was reviewed by the New York Times, bringing him to the attention of New York public theater organizer Joseph Papp.
By 1961, Scheider got his first professional opportunity, thanks to Papp. He was cast to play Mercurio in a New York Shakespeare Festival production of "Romeo and Juliet."
Scheider later became a member of the Lincoln Center Repertory Company, performing in productions at the Boston Arts Festival, the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., and the American Repertory. The rest, they say, is history.
Scheider reportedly made his TV debut in 1962, and his film debut two years later in “The Curse of the Living Corpse.” The next year, 1965, he made his Broadway debut in “Tartuffe.”
While Scheider continued to work in various stage and Tv productions, his first significant role did not come until 1971 when he played a threatening pimp opposite Jane Fonda in “Klute.”
That movie seemed to cement Scheider’s reputation as a tough guy actor and led to a string of typecasting with characters like Buddy Russo in “The French Connection” and Brody in 1975’s “Jaws.”
“Jaws” catapulted Scheider’s career and brought him a higher level of fame. As the Guardian noted, the Steven Spielberg classic heralded the blockbuster era and was the first film to earn $100m at the box office.
Scheider went on to reprise his role in the “Jaws” 1978 sequel, but the actor’s most memorable work is in “All That Jazz,” where he proved – via his character Joe Gideon – that he could dance as well.
Scheider’s performance in the 1979 musical drama film earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. His only other Oscar nod was as best supporting actor in 1971's "The French Connection."
Towards the end of his life, Scheider was diagnosed with blood cancer. In June 2005, he underwent a bone-marrow transplant to treat multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells, THR reported.
On February 10, 2008, Scheider died of complications from a staph infection at a hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas. He was 75. Tributes soon began to pour in from his colleagues.
"He was a wonderful guy. He was what I call a knock-around actor,” Scheider’s “Jaws” co-star said of him. “A knock-around actor to me is a compliment that means a professional that lives the life of a professional actor.”
Scheider was survived by his documentary producer wife, Brenda Siemer, and their children, Christian and Molly. Scheider’s daughter from his first marriage, Maximillia, died in 2006.
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