It’s barely even noon here on the East Coast and already two legendary film greats have passed away. First, French actress Jean Moreau passed away overnight, and now, Oscar-nominated actor and celebrated playwright Sam Shepard has died at the age of 73, according to reports.
Shepard died last Thursday, July 27 — his 73rd birthday — at his Kentucky home from complications due to Lou Gehrig’s disease, better known as ALS.
Shepard was the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who wrote Buried Child, while his 1986 play A Lie of the Remind received the Drama Desk award for Outstanding Play. Shepard was also nominated for an Oscar for his performance in The Right Stuff in 1983, and a Golden Globe in 2000 for the miniseries Dash and Lilly.
Born in Fort Sheridan, Illinois on November 5, 1943, Shepard moved to New York in the early sixties and quickly become a prominent part of the city’s burgeoning theater scene as a playwright.
In 1978, he was cast by Terrence Malick opposite Richard Gere in Days of Heaven, which launched his acting career. Five years later, he’d receive an Oscar nomination for playing astronaut Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff.
Shepard would continue his acting career right up until his last days, most recently co-starring on the Emmy-winning Netflix show Bloodline. He also worked with director Jeff Nichols twice, appearing in his 2012 film Mud and last year’s Midnight Special.
Despite his prolific career directing stage plays, Shepard only directed two films, 1988’s Far North and 1993’s Silent Tongue.
For many, Shepard was considered an actor who represented the South, as many of his great characters were from that region, and his presence in a film would always elevate its quality.
Edward Douglas | East Coast Editor