According to The New York Times, "Mr. Scheider had suffered from multiple myeloma for several years, and died of complications from a staph infection, his wife, Brenda Seimer, said."
Born in New Jersey in 1932, Mr. Scheider made his big screen debut in 1964's The Curse of the Living Corpse. From those inauspicious beginnings he became one of Hollywood's most unlikely leading men. Although his later career was peppered with lots of low-end product, the actor left behind a lot of excellent work*. He was nominated twice for an Academy Award (The French Connection and All That Jazz), but to millions of movie-lovers he'll always be remembered as the uncomfortable, no-nonsense, oddly lovable Police Chief Martin Brody, the island cop who hated the water.
* I'm sure you have your favorite Scheider moments, but here are a few (relatively) lesser-known titles that you might enjoy checking out: The Seven-Ups (1973), Sorcerer (1977), Still of the Night (1982), 52 Pick-Up (1986), and Naked Lunch (1991). One of the actor's last quality jobs was providing the narration for The Shark Is Still Working, a Jaws documentary that he endorsed quite happily. Fans will definitely want to check that one out.
Rest in peace, Mr. Scheider. I'm about to go grab my Jaws DVD.
"You're gonna need a bigger boat."