Entertainment & Arts

Sam Shepard: US actor and playwright dies aged 73

Sam Shepard Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sam Shepard wrote more than 40 plays in his career

US actor and playwright Sam Shepard has died at the age of 73.

Shepard wrote more than 40 plays and won the Pulitzer Prize for drama for Buried Child 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.

He died at home in Kentucky on Thursday, his family have confirmed.

Shepard's death came after he experienced complications from motor neurone disease, also known as ALS.

Image copyright Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Image caption Sam Shepard starred alongside Ellen Burstyn in 1980 film Resurrection

His first major acting role was in Terrence Malik's Days of Heaven in 1978, in which he starred alongside Richard Gere.

Other film credits include Steel Magnolias, The Pelican Brief and The Accidental Husband.

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Image caption Shepard was surrounded by family when he died last week

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.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Shepard with Brad Pitt (centre) and Casey Affleck (right), his co-stars in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

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.

A spokesman said Shepard's family were with him when he died. He leaves children Jesse, Hannah and Walker Shepard and sisters Sandy and Roxanne Rogers.

Tributes have been paid from the worlds of film, theatre and TV.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who starred in Black Hawk Down and also appears in Game of Thrones, wrote: "A hero of theatre. A hero of writing. A hero of acting. A hero of mine."

Actor Rob Lowe described him as "a true American icon of letters", while True Blood star Joe Manganiello called him "a true American legend", adding: "Your plays and roles will live on forever."

Beau Willimon, creator of Netflix's House of Cards, described Shepard as "one of the greats", adding: "These eyes saw so much, and he wrote of what he saw with fearless, timeless honesty."


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