Actor and Playwright Sam Shepard Dies

Award winning entertainer and playwright Sam Shepard died July 27 in his Kentucky home as a result of complications from ALS – Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – more commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease at the age of 73.


Pacific Ocean (Jun. 15, 2004) – Actor Sam Shepard mulls over a scene in the upcoming motion picture “Stealth,” while filming aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). After ten months of dry docked Planned Incremental Availability (PIA) maintenance, Lincoln is conducting local operations in the Pacific Ocean in preparation for an upcoming deployment. U.S. Navy photo by PhotographerÕs Mate 3rd Class Tyler J. Clements. (RELEASED)

Writing over 50 plays, his compositions include “Chicago”, “Heartless”, “Cowboy Mouth”, “Buried Child”, “True West”, The Tooth of Crime”, and “Fool for Love”. Shepard made his Broadway debut in 1969 with contributions to the original Musical Revue and the revival of “Oh! Calcutta!”. His other Broadway works include writing “Operation Sidewinder”, “Buried Child”, “True West”, and “Fool for Love”.

Appearing in over 60 productions, Shepard made his screen debut in 1970 in “Brand X”. His other roles include “Days of Heaven”, “Raggedy Man”, “The Right Stuff” where he play Chuck Yeager, “Fool for Love”, “Steel Magnolias”, “Thunderheart”, “The Pelican Brief”, the ghost in “Hamlet”, “All the Pretty Horses”, “Black Hawk Down”, “The Notebook”, “Charlotte’s Web” as the voice of the narrator, “August: Osage County”, six episodes of the mini series “Klondike”, and seven episodes of the Netflix series “Bloodline”.

The son of a former military pilot and schoolteacher, he was born Samuel Shepard Rogers IV on November 5. 1943 in Fort Sheridan, Illinois the oldest of three children but grew up on an avocado ranch in in California. A true renaissance man Shepard was an actor, playwright, director, and a musician – a drummer – who even toured with Bob Dylan and played with the Holy Modal Rounders. He also wrote the song “Brownsville Girl”.

Shepard also penned the books “The One Inside”, “Cruising Paradise”, and “Motel Chronicles”.

Shepard’s awards include a Palme d’Or from Cannes, eleven Obie Awards, the Gold Medal for Drama from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Drama Desk Award, and a Pulitzer Prize. He is also a member of the Theater Hall of Fame.

Survivors include children Jesse, Hannah and Samuel and sisters Sandy and Roxanne. Shepard is also survived by actress Jessica Lange and musician Patti Smith with whom he had relationships.

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