Sam Shepard, playwright and actor, dies age 73

Playwright, director and actor Sam Shepard has died at the age of 73

Sam Shepard
Sam Shepard

Playwright, director and actor Sam Shepard, 73, has died of complications from the degenerative motor neuron disease ALS.

Shepard passed away at his home in Kentucky on 30 July surrounded by family.

Shepard wrote 44 plays including Buried Child, which won him the Pulitzer prize for drama in 1979. He went on to be nominated for the best supporting actor Oscar for 1983's The Right Stuff and starred in films like Black Hawk Down as well as co-writing 1984's Paris, Texas.

More recently, he was seen as Robert Rayburn in two series of Netflix thriller Bloodline.

Shepard also appears in psychological thriller Never Here, which had its premiere last month.

He was nominated for two other Pulitzers, for Broadway plays Fool for Love and True West. He was also nominated for two Tony Awards.

His final play was A Particle of Dread, which was first performed in Derry/Londonderry in 2013 as part of its year as UK City of Culture.

And he wrote the screenplay for Robert Altman's big screen adaptation of his play Fool for Love. His novel, The One Inside, was published earlier this year.

Shepard started writing plays in the 60s. “Back then, there was a dearth of American theatre,” he told the Observer in 2014. “There was nothing going on. American art was starving.”

His work included Angel City, Cowboy Mouth (in collaboration with Patti Smith that was written in just two nights) and a screenplay for Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas. He received Tony nominations for both Buried Child and a 2000 revival of True West.

Shepard also directed many of his plays but with rare exceptions, he refrained from directing work of others. He directed two films: 1988’s Far North with then-partner Jessica Lange and 1993’s Silent Tongue, which starred Richard Harris and River Phoenix.

He also collaborated with Bob Dylan for the song Brownsville Girl which featured on his 1986 album Knocked Out Loaded.