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Ballad of Narayama

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Roy Scheider, 1932-2008

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.---- Roy Scheider, a two-time Oscar nominee best known for his role as a police chief in the blockbuster movie ''Jaws,'' (1975) has died. He was 75.

Scheider died Sunday at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences hospital in Little Rock, hospital spokesman David Robinson said. The hospital did not release a cause of death.

However, hospital spokeswoman Leslie Taylor said Scheider had been treated for multiple myeloma at the hospital’s Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy for the past two years.

He was nominated for a best-supporting actor Oscar in 1971’s “The French Connection” in which he played the police partner of Oscar winner Gene Hackman and for best-actor for 1979’s “All That Jazz,” the autobiographical Bob Fosse film.

However, he was best known for his role in Steven Spielberg’s 1975 film, “Jaws,” the enduring classic about a killer shark terrorizing beachgoers and well as millions of moviegoers.

Widely hailed as the film that launched the era of the Hollywood blockbuster, it was also the first movie to earn $100 million at the box office. Scheider starred with Richard Dreyfuss, who played an oceanographer.

“He was a wonderful guy. He was what I call ’a knockaround actor,”’ Dreyfuss told The Associated Press 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.

In 2005, one of Scheider’s most famous lines in the movie — “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” — was voted No. 35 on the American Film Institute’s list of best quotes from U.S. movies.

That year, some 30 years after “Jaws” premiered, hundreds of movie buffs flocked to Martha’s Vineyard, off the southeastern coast of Massachusetts, to celebrate the great white shark.

The island’s JawsFest ’05 also brought back some of the cast and crew, including screenwriter Carl Gottlieb and Peter Benchley, who wrote the novel that inspired Spielberg’s classic. Spielberg, Scheider and Dreyfuss were absent.

Dreyfuss recalled Sunday a time during the filming of ’Jaws’ when Scheider disappeared from the set. As the filming was on hold because of the weather, Scheider “called me up and said, ’You don’t know where I am if they call.’

“He’d gone to get a tan. He was really very tan-addicted. That was due to a childhood affliction where he was in bed for a long time. For him being tan was being healthy,” Dreyfuss said.

He added that Scheider “was a pretty civilized human being — you can’t ask for much more than that.”

Scheider was also politically active. He participated in rallies protesting U.S. military action in Iraq, including a massive New York demonstration in March 2003 that police said drew 125,000 chanting activists.

Scheider had a home built for him and his family in 1994 in Sagaponack in the Hamptons, where he was active in community issues. The oceanfront house featured five bedrooms, four fireplaces and various decks and porches.

Last summer, Scheider announced that he was selling the home for about $18.75 million to singer-songwriter Billy Joel and was moving to the nearby village of Sag Harbor.

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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