As reported by Variety and confirmed by The Martha’s Vineyard Times, Lee Fiero—who had a memorable role in Jaws and spent decades as an acting teacher in Martha’s Vineyard—has died of complications from the coronavirus. Fierro had been living at an assisted care facility in Ohio. She was 91.
In Jaws, Fierro played Mrs. Kintner, the mother of the second person to be killed by the rampaging shark in Steven Spielberg’s iconic film. After learning that another person had died and that Roy Scheider’s Chief Brody allowed the beaches to stay open anyway, she marches up to him in full funeral attire and slaps him on the face. It’s the kind of scene that highlights what’s so great about Jaws, as in just a moment Fierro is able to show why the shark is so terrifying and why the cost of ignoring the threat it poses is so high. She reprised the role of Mrs. Kintner in Jaws: The Revenge.
Fierro was a drama teacher at the Island Theatre Workshop in Martha’s Vineyard when Spielberg filmed the movie, and she served as the organization’s artistic director for more than 25 years. According to The Martha’s Vineyard Times, she mentored more than 1,000 children in her time there and was “fiercely dedicated to the mission of teaching.” Kevin Ryan, the workshop’s current artistic director, said that he knows why the Jaws scene is iconic but wants people to know that Fierro’s legacy goes beyond that, noting that she built a theater company that is still in operation 52 years later.