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Sam Shepard, Legendary Actor and Playwright, Dies at 73

Sam Shepard
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Some incredibly unwelcome news from Broadway News: Sam Shepard, an Oscar, Emmy, and Golden Globe nominated actor, director, author, and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright has died. According to The Week, Shepard was suffering from ALS. He was only 73 years old.

Stage fans know Shepard as the writer of some of the most famous and acclaimed plays of the last 25 years. His shows include Buried ChildTrue WestFool for Love, and A Lie of the Mind. Several of his plays later became movies, and Shepard also wrote a few screenplays, including Wim Wenders’ beloved indie Paris, Texas. Onscreen, though, Shepard was much more well-known as an actor. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for playing Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff.

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Shepard spent the 25 years after The Right Stuff working steadily in Hollywood in between stage gigs, including roles in films like Steel MagnoliasThe Pelican BriefHamletAll the Pretty HorsesBlack Hawk DownThe NotebookCold in July, and Mud. His screen work was mostly supporting turns; a notable recent exception was Blackthorn, a 2011 Western that functioned as an unofficial sequel to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, where Shepard played an aging Butch who somehow managed to survive his presumed death in Bolivia.

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Shepard leaves behind an incredible body of work, both as a writer and as actor. The Right Stuff remains one of the great films of the 1980s. (In 2012, our contributor Jordan Hoffman picked it as one of the greatest films of all time period), and his plays were remarkable as well. (One of the greatest nights I have ever had in a Broadway theater was watching John C. Reilly and Philip Seymour Hoffman perform his True West.) He will be missed. And remembered.

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