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Jul 31 2017
Sam Shepard, Greatest Living American Playwright Of His Generation, Dies @ 73 Comments (0)

SamShepardRightStuffVia Variety: Sam Shepard, widely considered the greatest living American playwright of his generation, has died at 73. 

Unbenownst to many, he writer, director and actor was battling ALS, althought he continued working until recently.

Keep reading for a full obit...

Sam Shepard RightSam Shepard: November 5, 1943-July 27, 2017 (Image via Warner Bros.)

Sam Shepard was the author of four dozen plays, as well as many books and memoirs. His bleakly poetic style was honed after leaving Chicago, and later L.A., for NYC's Village, where he became an Off-Off-Broadway staple. He wrote numerous plays during the early to mid-'60s, many staged at the Theatre Genesis at St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery.

Plays like his debut Cowboys (1964), The Rock Garden (1964), Chicago (1965) and Icarus's Mother (1965) established him as a unique voice, and he also co-wrote for film, including screenplays for Me and My Brother (1969) and Zabriskie Point (1970). Much later, he would receive acclaim for co-writing Paris, Teas (1984).

He contributed sketches to Oh! Calcutta! (1969), and his The Unseen Hand (1969) is said to have been an inspiration for the phenomenon The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1973).

Scan 1Shepard's collaboration with Patti Smith (Image via personal collection of Matthew Rettenmund)

Shepard worked with his lover Patti Smith (b. 1946) in Cowboy Mouth (1971), which helped to introduce her prior to her emergence as a punk icon.

As playwright-in-residence at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco starting in 1975, he wrote his most important plays, including Buried Child (1978), which won him the Pulitzer Prize; True West (1980); Fool for Love (1985); and A Lie of the Mind (1985).

He continued writing plays through 2014, his last being that year's A Particle of Dread (Oedipus Variations).

As an actor, Shepard worked sporadically in film and, rarely, on TV, more so as time passed. Aside from an obscure work in 1970, he first starred on-screen in Renaldo and Clara (1978), directed by Bob Dylan (b. 1941), and had major roles in important films like Days of Heaven (1978), Resurrection (1980) and Raggedy Man (1981), 87610_fullroles that often incorporated his strong, silent, expressive country grit.

He received an Oscar nomination for his supporting work in the acclaimed hit The Right Stuff (1983), leading to more commercial appearances, including in Baby Boom (1987), Steel Magnolias (1989) [pictured; image via TriStar] and The Pelican Brief (1993).

Notable later film appearances include The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) and August: Osage County (2013), his last movie being 2017's Never Here.

Bloodline15xWith Kyle Chandler on Bloodline (Netflix)

On TV, he was Emmy-nominated for his role in the 1999 movie Dash and Lilly, and he played a recurring role on Bloodline (2015-2017), his final role in any medium.

93129_fullShepard with Jessica Lange in Frances in 1982 (Image via Universal)

On the set of the 1982 film Frances, about the life and descent into madness of movie star Frances Farmer (1913-1970), Shepard met and fell in love with Jessica Lange (b. 1949). The couple was together until 2009.

Shepard died at his home in Kentucky. He is survived by three children.