Roy Scheider died on Sunday, Feb. 10, at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences Hospital in Little Rock. The acclaimed actor was 75 years old, and spent many years living in Sag Harbor, NY.
In 2004, Scheider was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells. In June 2005, he underwent a bone marrow transplant to successfully treat the cancer which was classified as being in partial remission. Though a cause of death was not immediately released, Scheider's wife, Brenda Siemer, attributed her husband's death to complications from a staph infection.
Scheider was born in Orange, NJ, on Nov. 10, 1932, the son of Anna S. (Crosson), and Roy Bernhard Scheider, who was an auto mechanic. As a youth he was an athlete, who participated in both baseball and boxing competitions, and attributed his broken nose to the New Jersey Diamond Gloves.
Scheider attended Columbia High School in Maplewood, NJ, and was later inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 1985. He studied drama at both Rutgers
University in New Jersey and Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, where he was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.
Scheider had intentions of attending law school but instead opted to join the U.S. Air Force in the early 1950s during the Korean War. After serving three years and rising to the rank of first lieutenant, Scheider returned to Franklin and Marshall College and remained listed as a reservist.
As a boxer with the New Jersey Diamond Gloves, Scheider suffered a broken nose which he chose not to have fixed. While majoring in history as a pre-law student he reportedly discovered his love for acting, participating in college productions.
Best known for his role as the non-swimming sheriff in "Jaws," (1975); Scheider received his first Academy Award nominated role for Best Supporting Actor as the character Buddy Russo in the 1971 film "The French Connection." His second Academy Award nominated performance for Best Actor followed in 1979 for his portrayal of Joe Gideon, an autobiographical portrayal of Bob Fosse
in "All That Jazz."
In 1980, Scheider returned to the stage, where his performance in a production of Harold Pinter's "Betrayal" earned him the Drama League of New York award for distinguished performance.
Locally, Scheider helped to found The Hayground School
in Bridgehampton, NY - a school dedicated to creating innovative and culturally diverse learning environments for local children. At the time of his death, Scheider was involved in a project to build a film studio in Florence, Italy, for a series about the history of the Renaissance.
According to a statement released by the Hayground School, "in the early, intense days of endless meetings in families' living rooms, Roy shared a story about his childhood mentor, Friend Avery, a teacher who opened his mind and heart to the world of literature and theater. It was that story about mentors that ultimately led to the original staged creation "Who's Gonna Be There," a dramatic dialogue with actor/activist Danny Glover, produced at the Bay Street Theater
and the Sag Harbor Whaler's Church to benefit the fledgling Hayground School.
Speaking of her recollections of Roy Scheider, Ross School Founder Toni Ross
commented, "Roy added joy to my life. He led by example, coming to all the meetings, dropping the kids off at school, acting on civil rights issues and giving of his time and expertise in a respectful and generous way. He knew how and when to take the front or the back seat, a quality that set him apart from so many of us."
Scheider is survived by his wife, Brenda Siemer, whom he wed on Feb. 11, 1989, and three children, Christian Verrier Scheider and Molly Mae Scheider, with Siemer, and Maximillia Connelly Lord, from an earlier marriage to Cynthia Bebout.
He is also survived by a brother, Glenn Scheider of Summit, NJ; and two grandchildren.