Sam Shepard, Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and actor, dies aged 73

Ryan Leston
UK Movies Writer
Sam Shepard stars as Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff - Credit: Warner Bros.

Hollywood star Sam Shepard has died, aged 73.

The iconic actor and playwright had been suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – otherwise known as ALS or Motor Neurone Disease.

According to Broadway World, Shepard passed away on Sunday surrounded by his family.

“Shepard, who had been ill with ALS for some time, died peacefully on July 30 at home in Kentucky, surrounded by his children and sisters. He was 73 years old.”

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Sam Shepard was perhaps best known for the role of Chuck Yeager in the 1983 historical epic, ‘The Right Stuff’. In fact, it remains his only Oscar-nominated role. But the prolific actor and filmmaker enjoyed a long and varied career, starring in the likes of ‘The Notebook’ and ‘Steel Magnolias’ as well as the more recent sci-fi epic, ‘Midnight Special’.

And as fans will know, he wasn’t just a great actor, either.

Actor, filmmaker and playwright Sam Shepard has died – Credit: WENN

Behind the camera, Shepard enjoyed a long career as a writer, with recent Wim Wenders film ‘Don’t Come Knocking’ as his latest feature film. He also wrote and directed ‘Silent Tongue’ in 1994, as well as ‘Far North’ in 1988.

He even enjoyed a long career as a playwright, with ‘Simpatico’ adapted for the big screen.

Most impressively, he wrote a total of forty-four plays, with his body of work spanning across fifty years since his debut play ‘Cowboys’ in 1964.

“Shepard’s plays are chiefly known for their bleak, poetic, often surrealist elements,” notes Broadway World, “[as well as] black humor and rootless characters living on the outskirts of American society.”

Already, Hollywood tributes have begun pouring in:

In 1983, Sam Shepard was nominated at the Oscars for Best Supporting Actor in ‘The Right Stuff’. He didn’t quite clinch it (losing out to Jack Nicholsn in ‘Terms of Endearment’), but went on to win the American Academy of Arts and Letters Awards Gold Medal for Drama, as well as the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award in 2009.

RIP Sam Shepard, who died 30 July 2017.

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