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Sam Shepard has passed away

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Playwright, actor, author, screenwriter, and director Sam Shepard has died at the age of 73. 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 the author of forty-four plays as well as several books of short stories, essays, and memoirs. Shepard received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for his play Buried Child. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of pilot Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff (1983). Shepard received the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award as a master American dramatist in 2009. New York described him as “the greatest American playwright of his generation.”

Shepard began his acting career in earnest when he was cast in Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven (1978). This led to other important film roles, including that of Cal, Ellen Burstyn’s love interest, in the film Resurrection (1980), and most notably his portrayal of Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff (1983). By 1986, his play Fool for Love was getting a film adaptation directed by Robert Altman, in which Shepard played the lead role; his play A Lie of the Mind was being performed Off-Broadway with an all-star cast (including Harvey Keitel and Geraldine Page).

Throughout the years, Shepard has done a considerable amount of teaching on writing plays and other aspects of theatre. His classes and seminars have occurred at various theatre workshops, festivals, and universities. Shepard was elected to The American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1986. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1986.

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