Entertainment Movies Iconic actor, playwright and novelist Sam Shepard dies aged 73

Iconic actor, playwright and novelist Sam Shepard dies aged 73

sam shepard
Respected actor, playwright and novelist Sam Shephard has died aged 73. Photo: Columbia Pictures
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Sam Shepard, Oscar-nominated actor, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and celebrated author has died. He was 73.

A family spokesperson on Tuesday morning (AEST) said that Shepard died on Thursday at his home in Kentucky from complications related to Lou Gehrig’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Shepard, who grew up on a California ranch, was one of the most recognisable character actors in Hollywood.

A man of few words, he nevertheless produced 44 plays and numerous books, memoirs and short stories. His 1979 play Buried Child won the Pulitzer for drama.

His Western drawl and laconic presence made him a reluctant movie star, too.

He appeared in dozens of films, and was nominated for an Oscar for his his portrayal of pilot Chuck Yeager in 1983’s astronaut drama The Right Stuff

Sam Shepard
Shepard earned an Oscar nomination for his role in The Right Stuff. Photo: Warner Bros

His other notable on-screen work includes performances in Steel Magnolias, Black Hawk Down and most recently, the Netflix drama Bloodline for which Australia’s Ben Mendelsohn won an Emmy award.

Shepard married actress O-Lan Jones in 1969 and the pair had a son, Jesse Mojo Shepard, in 1970.

In 1982, Shepard starred in the movie Frances alongside Jessica Lange, with whom he would share a decades-spanning relationship. He divorced Jones in 1984.

Lange and Shepard had two children together, Hannah Jane, in 1985, and Samuel Walker Shepard, in 1987.

Shepard is survived by three his children and two sisters.

– With agencies