News of Lee Fierro’s passing was revealed to the Martha’s Vineyard Times by Kevin Ryan, the artistic director and board president for the Island Theater Workshop. Fierro was a staunch advocate for the program, which she supported for decades. In recent years, Fierro had been living in an assisted-living facility in Ohio.
Fierro’s role as Mrs. Kitner in Jaws undoubtedly makes her recognizable to a plethora of movie fans. Her most notable moment in the film is when Mrs. Kitner, having lost her son Alex to a great white shark attack, confronts Police Chief Martin Brody and slaps him in public for his assumed negligence. Although Brody was only acting on the mayor’s orders, he takes Kitner’s words to heart.
Lee Fierro would also go on to reprise her role, albeit in a smaller capacity, in the 1987 sequel Jaws: The Revenge. In the film, she would help to comfort Brody’s widow after she loses her own son to a shark attack.
Aside from her connection with Jaws and projects related to the movies, Fierro enjoyed teaching the craft of acting and did so on Martha’s Vineyard for more than 40 years. Kevin Ryan, who believes Fierro mentored more than 1,000 students in her lifetime, spoke highly of his late teacher and friend, stressing how she was always and dedicated worker with a willingness to help others:
The one word I would think of when I think of Lee is dedication. I’ve watched her as a performer, director and businesswoman and then we became friends. She was my teacher and mentor. I would still call Lee for artistic discussion and commentary, … She was fiercely dedicated to the mission of teaching. She, no matter what it was, would stay at it and get the job done.
Ryan’s sentiments were echoed by Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse Artistic Director MJ Munafo, who noted Lee Fierro’s impact on the local theater community and her personally:
I loved her and she was an inspiration to me. She was a huge presence on the Island theater community. She worked with hundreds of young people who just adored her.
Nikki Galland, a novelist, also reflected on how Fierro helped her hone her creativity and pursue her career:
I wouldn’t have gotten through my teen years without her. She’s the reason I followed my dreams. That’s such a hackneyed phrase, but it’s true. This is going to stick with me for a long time.
Lee Fierro is survived by her five children, seven grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. Due to the recent circumstances, her family is planning a small service, but a memorial service will be held in Martha’s Vineyard when possible.
We at CinemaBlend extend our thoughts to Lee Fierro’s loved ones during this time.