Los Angeles: Acclaimed playwright Sam Shepard, who was also praised as an actor, screenwriter, and director, has died. He was 73.
He died on July 27 at his residence in Kentucky following complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a family spokesman confirmed to variety.com.
Known for writing that suffused the fringes of American society with surreal and brutal poetry, Shepard rose to fame when he won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for his play ‘Buried Child’.
He was also nominated for an Academy Award in the supporting actor category for his part in the 1983 film ‘The Right Stuff’.
He wrote or co-wrote screenplays for Wim Wenders’ ‘Paris, Texas’, Michelangelo Antonioni’s ‘Zabriskie Point’, and Robert Altman’s ‘Fool for Love’, based on his play.
Shepard was one of the leading figures of the Off Off Broadway movement that flourished in downtown New York beginning in the early 1960s.
His often surreal early writings – including “Cowboy Mouth”, the 1971 work on which he collaborated with his romantic partner at the time, Patti Smith – eventually shifted toward an allusive not-quite-realism, beginning with “Buried Child” and continuing in plays like “Curse of the Starving Class”, “True West” and “Fool for Love”.
Recently, his stage work has included “The Late Henry Moss” (seen Off Broadway in 2001), “Heartless” and “A Particle of Dread (Oedipus Variations)”.
As an actor, his breakout film role was in Terrence Malick’s 1978 movie “Days of Heaven”, in which he starred opposite Richard Gere and Brooke Adams.
Along with his Oscar-nominated turn in “Right Stuff” he also appeared in movies including “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”, “Crimes of the Heart”, “Steel Magnolias”, “Black Hawk Down” and “August: Osage County”.
He also acted in the first two seasons of Netflix series “Bloodline”.
He was Emmy and Golden Globe-nommed for his role as Dashiell Hammett in TV movie “Dash and Lilly”.
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Shepard’s novel, “The One Inside,” was published in February.
He is survived by his children, Jesse, Hannah, and Walker Shepard, and his sisters, Sandy and Roxanne Rogers.