Oscar Nominated Actor, Playwright & Director Sam Shepard Has Died
"There are places where writing is acting and acting is writing. I'm not so interested in the divisions. I'm interested in the way things cross over." Sad news to report - playwright, director, and beloved actor Sam Shepard has died at age 73. The news comes from multiple sources (e.g. Variety), reporting that Shepard died at his home in Kentucky on Sunday from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as "Lou Gehrig's disease." He was nominated for a Best Supporting Performance Oscar in 1984 for playing Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff, but he is known for memorable appearances in many different films, not to mention books, plays, and other projects over the years. He most recently starred in Jeff Nichols' Midnight Special last year.
Here's a few of the heartfelt remembrances posted on Twitter after news broke about Sam Shepard's death:
A hero of theatre. A hero of writing. A hero of acting. A hero of mine. Sam Shepard RIP.
— Nikolaj CosterWaldau (@nikolajcw) July 31, 2017
One of the most iconic shots in cinema was the final moment of Sam Shepard as Chuck Yeager in THE RIGHT STUFF. pic.twitter.com/G7YStE2XOU
— Steven Santos (@stevensantos) July 31, 2017
— Tribeca (@Tribeca) July 31, 2017
We're saddened by the loss of Sam Shepard - not only one of the great writers of the American theater, but a captivating screen presence. pic.twitter.com/ILOVHGT4F3
— Film Forum (@FilmForumNYC) July 31, 2017
A steamy Sam Shepard & Diane Keaton kiss. (RIP, Sam Shepard)… pic.twitter.com/32s3epcY8x
— Tomris Laffly (@TomiLaffly) July 31, 2017
Sam Shepard was born in Fort Sheridan, Illinois. He worked on a ranch as a teen until discovering Samuel Beckett in college. He then dropped out, and starting acting in a touring theater repertory troupe. His break out role was in Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven in 1978, and he went on to appear in films including The Right Stuff, Steel Magnolias, The Pelican Brief, Snow Falling on Cedars, Hamlet, Swordfish, Black Hawk Down, The Notebook, Stealth, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Brothers, Fair Game, Safe House, Mud, Out of the Furnace, Cold in July, and Midnight Special. Shepard was also awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for his play "Buried Child", and he also wrote the scripts for Zabriskie Point, Paris Texas, Fool for Love, and Buried Child. The two films he directed were Far North and Silent Tongue. Shepard was also a very prominent figure on Broadway, writing, directed and starring in various stage shows, including earning Tony nominations for Best Play for "Buried Child" and "True West".
It's always very tough when someone this iconic and this beloved passes away. As said best by fellow writer Mark Harris today, Sam Shepard leaves behind a magnificent "body of work to be explored for generations".