Friday, 9 March 2012

Non-Centrefold Venus of the Month 5: Susan Backlinie, January 1973

We are running behind a bit on our magazine girlies so will attempt to catch up over the next week or so. We realised that we haven't even done January's non-centrefold of the month let alone February or March's yet.

So let's go back over forty years to Penthouse's January 1973 issue where she featured in a pictorial by Ralph Nelson called The Lady and the Lion.

Well, and that is exactly what the pictorial is about, Susan cavorting with a lion.  She was an animal trainer at the Africa USA safari park in California (where the TV show Daktari, which Triple P remembers from his childhood, was filmed).

Apparently, for $1,000 (a lot of money at the time, she would hire herself out for film stunts involving lions, although she refused to work with any lion older than two years as they were too unpredictable.

Certainly it takes some nerve to strip off and pose with a lion like this.   On the picture at the top she is actually lying on it for heaven's sake!

Fortunately, she remained safe and was not attacked by the animal, a fate which would, of course, befall her in only a few years.  But not by a lion.

Away from her furry friend she poses effectively on a stripey hammock and shows off her 5' 8" and 37-25-37 figure.

Susan is in possession of an all over tan, quite unusual for American girls at this time but claims in the accompanying article that she prefers nudity and only wears clothes when absolutely necessary.  Quite right too!

The text claims she is a 23 year old from Washington DC but actually she was born as Susan Jane Swindall in Ventura, California in September 1946, which would have made her 26 when this pictorial appeared.

Susan would achieve worldwide recognition two years later when she stripped off for a skinny dip and became the first victim in Steven Spielberg's breakthrough blockbuster, Jaws (1975).

Her distraught look in the scene (which took nine days to shoot) was enhanced by director Spielberg not telling her when a diver was going to grab her leg in simulation of the shark attack.  It remains one of the most iconic screen deaths ever put on celluloid.  When she was recording the screams to be dubbed over the film Spielberg had her tilt her head back and poured water down her throat whilst she screamed.  Nasty!

Susan in the Mermaid Follies in 1966

Backlinie had been a champion swimmer in her teens and later became a professional swimmer at Florida's long running Paradise Mermaid Follies show.

Susan in 1941

She spoofed her Jaws scene in Spielberg's disastrous "comedy" 1941 (1979) where she skinny dipped once more only to find herself underneath a surfacing Japanese submarine and clinging on to the periscope in probably the only good scene in the film.

She appeared in a few other films usually either swimming or with animals but her iconic appearance in Jaws meant that magazines were still keen to run pictures of her if they could find them.  Here she is stripping off by the sea again in February 1977's Mayfair, which featured the famous pictorial of Linda Lusardi.  

Susan was over thirty when these pictures appeared in Mayfair so it may be that they were taken earlier.

The text accompanying the pictorial said that she was living in a 30 foot cabin cruiser and still doing a lot of diving.

She makes a splendid sea nymph!

Susan now lives in her birthplace of Ventura and is an accountant but can be seen attending conventions and autograph signings based on her Jaws fame.

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