Published On: Mon, Jul 31st, 2017

Playwright and actor Sam Shepard dies

Sam Shepard, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Oscar-nominated actor and renowned author, has died aged 73.

He died at his Kentucky home from complications related to Lou Gehrig’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, on Thursday, a family spokesman has announced.

His 1979 play Buried Child, about the disappointment and disillusionment with the American Dream, won the Pulitzer for drama.

Two of his other plays, True West and Fool for Love, were also nominated for the Pulitzers.

Shepard earned his Oscar nomination for his performance in 1983 astronaut drama The Right Stuff, and also appeared in Terrance Malick’s Days Of Heaven.

He wrote the screenplay for Paris, Texas, the 1984 Wim Wenders-directed film which won the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1984.

More recently, he starred as family patriarch Robert Rayburn in Netflix series Bloodline – his last on-screen role.

Shepard, known as a man of few words, produced 44 plays and numerous books, memoirs and short stories.

Tributes flowed on Twitter, including from actor Jason Alexander, who said: “A great man of the theater has passed. Thank you, Sam Shepard. RIP.”

Don Cheadle wrote: “Literally bumped into Sam Shepard many years ago, both of us on our way to see Pillow Man on Broadway. We had a great chat/walk. #hero RIP”

Shepard was born in Illinois and moved to California where he lived on an avocado ranch.

After finishing high school, he spent a year studying agriculture before joining a travelling theatre company.

He then moved to New York to become a playwright, having started writing – and acting – while still at school.

His father was an teacher and former army pilot who had drinking problems. Shepard would later write regularly about the damage done by alcoholics.

But he had his own struggles with alcohol – he was arrested in 2015 for drunk driving.

He was married to actress O-Lan Jones from 1969 to 1984. They had one child.

He was had a relationship of nearly three decades with Jessica Lange – until 2009. They had two children.

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