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Lee Fierro, Who Moved Filmgoers As Heartbroken Mother Mrs. Kintner in JAWS, Dies At 91

(Spoilers ahead)

In the original Hollywood blockbuster JAWS, a movie about the hunting of a great white shark that is turning the ocean red while dining on residents of a fictional New England island, the most gut-wrenching scene features no blood at all.

Mrs. Kinter, whose young son Alex was killed by the shark, viciously slaps the Chief of Police (after confirming it is in fact him) for allowing the beaches to remain open, essentially making her son chum. The scene jolts you out of your seat. And that's because of the work of Lee Fiero. 

Sadly, Fiero, one of many Martha's Vineyard residents who had a role in the movie when it was filmed on the island in 1974, passed away at 91 due to complications from the terrible virus currently ravaging our nation. Fiero also did much more than steal scenes in the Biggest Movie Ever At That Point In Time. From the Martha's Vineyard Times...

(Martha's Vineyard Times)---“She was tickled by it (the scene). She found it really entertaining,” Galland said. “She would say, ‘If you told me that’s what I’d be known for, I wouldn’t believe it.’ She had no screen training. She trained as a theater actor.” Galland recalled a story Fierro would tell about being scolded by director Stephen Spielberg for a dramatic exit from Edgartown Town Hall during the filming. “Lee, you’re not on Broadway, tone it down. Tone it down,” she recalled Fierro telling her.

Ryan said he understands why that role is brought up, but it in no way defined Fierro. “I really want to make sure people remember there was more to Lee Fierro than that one scene, though she really did steal that scene from a lot of big actors,” he said. “I want people to remember that she helped to build a community company that after 52 years is still here. As they’re closing around the country, we’re still here and that’s because of Lee Fierro’s dedication.”

The Island Theatre Workshop was started by Mary Payne, but Fierro spent more than 25 years as artistic director and several years after that she continued to assist working well into her 80s, Ryan said.

“She remained as a creative force and spiritual force,” Galland said. “I have memories of Lee when she was 50 and when she was 85, and there’s really not much difference. Most of my happy teenage memories involve Lee.”

It's nice to know Fierro left a tangible, real-life legacy in addition to the towering, celluloid one she left thanks to a small yet pivotal role in a timeless classic. She sounded like quite a woman according to the article above. Fierro was living in Ohio so there will be a small family service there but whenever it becomes possible, there will also be a memorial service for her on the island she called home. 

(Back to JAWS for a sec...Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) takes the heat, and a hard bitch slap, for cowardly Mayor Vaughn (an always terrific Murray Hamilton), who put money over his constituents' lives, ordered Brody to keep the beaches open despite the obvious threat, and got a little boy killed in the process. Then the piece of shit tries to gaslight Brody right to his face but the Chief wasn't having it. By the way speaking of Scheider, if you're only familiar with his work through JAWS and/or THE FRENCH CONNECTION, go watch him in ALL THAT JAZZ. He turns in an absolute tour-de-force as Joe Gideon, who was essentially the movie's director Bob Fosse---a drug-using, chain-smoking, skirt-chasing, world class stage/film director and choreographer. He lost the Best Actor Oscar to Dustin Hoffman in KRAMER VS. KRAMER but I'd argue Roy deserved it more. You'll come away realizing that he was so much more talented than just Chief Brody.)