Jaws Actor Roy Scheider Died of Multiple Myeloma-Correction


Celebrity Diagnosis would like to thank our readers who rightfully pointed out an error in our story. Roy Scheider died in 2008 after a battle his battle with multiple myeloma. A link about Mr. Scheider’s death was embedded in a story about the death of another film legend James Farrentino who died this week, and implied that Mr. Scheider had just died as well.

However, Mr. Scheider’s story of multiple myeloma is still an important one, as it puts a familiar face on an illness that will be diagnosed in over 20,000 people a year.

The story has also brought comments from readers that gave us a valuable resource for those with multiple myeloma: The Myeloma Beacon at: http://www.myelomabeacon.com/

We apologize for any confusion this error may have caused.

“You’re gonna need a bigger boat!”

–Police Chief Martin Brody, Jaws, 1975

It is by these immortal words that actor Roy Scheider seems to be best known. The 75 year old  Jaws star died from complication of multiple myeloma.

Scheider’s acting career spanned almost 50 years, and included two Academy Award nominations. The first, for Best Supporting Actor, was for playing a fictionalized version of New York City detective Sonny Grosso in the 1971 classic  The French Connection. His second Academy Award nomination, this time as Best Actor, occurred in eight years later for All That Jazz, in which he played a  version of the film’s director and co-writer Bob Fosse.

In 2004, Scheider was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. In June 2005, he underwent a bone marrow transplant to treat the cancer.

Scheider had been receiving treatment  for the past two years at the University of Arkansas’s Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy in Little Rock Arkansas. His wife, Brenda Seimer, told the New York Times the cause of death was complications from a staph infection.


What is Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple Myeloma is a cancer that develops from plasma cells,  a type of white blood cell in the bone marrow that make antibodies. Antibodies are part of the immune system which  help protect the body from germs and other harmful substances.Each type of plasma cell makes a different antibody.

When a plasma cell becomes cancerous, it divides into more cells in an uncontrolled manner. These abnormal plasma cells (myeloma cells) build up in the bone marrow, forming tumors in many bones of the body.

Myeloma cells make antibodies called M proteins and other proteins. These proteins can collect in the blood, urine, and in organs and can cause damage to those organs.

These tumors also prevent the bone marrow from making enough healthy blood cells. Normally, the bone marrow produces stem cells (immature cells) that develop into three types of mature blood cells:

1. Red blood cells that carry oxygen and other materials to all tissues of the body.

2. White blood cells that fight infection and disease.

3. Platelets that help prevent bleeding by causing blood clots to form.

As the number of myeloma cells increases, fewer red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets are made. The myeloma cells also damage and weaken the hard parts of the bones.

What symptoms does multiple myeloma cause?

Sometimes multiple myeloma does not cause any symptoms. The most common symptoms include:

  • Bone pain, often in the back or ribs.
  • Bones that break easily.
  • Fever for no known reason or frequent infections.
  • Easy bruising or bleeding.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Weakness of the arms or legs.
  • Feeling very tired.

Sometimes  tumors can damage the bone and cause hypercalcemia (a condition in which there is too much calcium in the blood). This can affect many organs in the body, including the kidneys, nerves, heart, muscles, and digestive tract, and cause serious health problems.

Hypercalcemia may cause the following symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Feeling thirsty
  • Frequent urination
  • Constipation
  • Feeling very tired
  • Muscle weakness
  • Restlessness
  • Mental confusion or trouble thinking

How is multiple myeloma treated?

Patients with early myeloma can do well for years without treatment and starting treatment early does not seem to help them live longer. These patients are often watched closely without starting chemo. Sometimes they will be given a medication called bisphosphonate to help protect their bones.

In those patients with more advanced stages of myeloma, a variety of treatment options exist, and may be used in combination. These include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant
  • Biologic therapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Surgery
  • Plasmapheresis(filtering of the blood to remove excess antibodies)

For more information about multiple myeloma, click here to go to the Resounding Health Casebook on the topic.

What is your favorite Roy Scheider film?

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.


  1. Lori

    January 26, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    There is something wrong this post. He died several years ago.

    • Dr. M

      January 27, 2012 at 8:51 am

      No. He died this week.

      • Debbie

        January 27, 2012 at 1:37 pm

        No, he died four years ago – in early 2008. I remember it clear as day, because my father has Multiple Myeloma and was diagnosed right at that time. That is quite an oversight and I think a retraction is definitely in order, especially in case the actor’s family see this article.
        Thank you.

  2. Jen

    January 27, 2012 at 10:53 am

    No, Roy Schneider died from MM in 2008.

  3. Lori

    January 27, 2012 at 11:32 am

  4. Lori

    January 27, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Dr. Berman, I wish that I could have contacted you privately to have this correspondence. As a Myeloma Caregiver whose husband treated at UAMS where Mr. Scheider was treated and beloved by the staff there, I had personal knowledge of his death from MM. Each time we learn of an acquaintance, a friend, or a celebrity that we know is battling this disease has died, it unnerves us and makes us sad. Even though we are acutely aware of the survival statistics, despite the continuing ardent research and breakthroughs. I think had you perhaps listed some of the celebrities that have passed from MM, like Roy Scheider, Geraldine Ferraro, and now Actor, Matt Damon’s father is currently being treated, and then launched into your otherwise decent description of MM, it would have been of more service. Also, directing newly diagnosed patients to The Myeloma Beacon, MyMultipleMyeloma.com, and other valuable websites and blogs would have been infinitely helpful to patients being directed to more up to date, optimistic, current information on the treatment trends with Myeloma. As a licensed physician, your words carry weight on the internet and could help empower the E-Patient. It is very hard on the intimate group of Myeloma Warriors in Myelomaville who are trying to stay optimistic and hopeful, fighting the good fight when we read of someone’s death from this disease. My husband’s current projected life span is 15 years vs the 3-5 year typical projections of the olden days that is still being disseminated. Roy Scheider was a High Risk MM patient which is very difficult to keep in sustained, durable remission. As with most MM patients he did not die of the disease, but from complications associated with the disease and its treatment.

    Lori Puente
    Riding the Wave – Multiple Myeloma

  5. Sean Murray

    January 27, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Dr. M: Thank you for sharing information about multiple myeloma. As you know, nearly 20,000 Americans will be dignosed with this bone marrow cancer this year. Exciting advances are taking place to prolong projected life spans by using novel agents and genetic expression profiling of individual myeloma cells. There is hope that someday a cure for this complicated heterogeneous disease will be found. For complete accuracy, please do correct your article’s facts regarding Mr. Scheider’s death date, so that the good information that you have gathered will hold up to scrutiny. He died in 2008. As an author, member of the entertainment community, and a
    myeloma patient, I would appreciate it. Thank you.

  6. Hanna O

    January 27, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    I have arrived here in support of Lori, who posted comments in response to your article. In case you continue to question Lori’s facts, perhaps you would care to read the publication date of the article you reference in your fourth paragraph. Click on the link to see the following:

    Roy Scheider, Actor in ‘Jaws,’ Dies at 75
    Published: February 11, 2008

    Hoping this clears up the facts inquestion.

  7. Lori

    January 27, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    Thank you for the correction.
    The Myeloma Beacon can be found at: http://www.myelomabeacon.com/
    My Multiple Myeloma can be found at: http://www.mymultiplemyeloma.com/

    • Dr. M

      January 28, 2012 at 9:35 am

      Thanks for the update Lori.

  8. David

    December 19, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Well, I think this blows you out of the water, Dr M. And I speak as the partner of an end stage MM victim, with about 3 months to go. Tell the truth!

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