1 Aug 2017

Actor and playwright Sam Shepard dies

7:42 am on 1 August 2017

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

Shepard won a Pulitzer Prize in 1979 for his play Buried Child, and as an actor was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of the test pilot Chuck Yeager in the 1983 film The Right Stuff.

Sam Shepard in the 2013 film August: Osage County.

Sam Shepard in the 2013 film August: Osage County. Photo: AFP / Weinstein Company / Archives du 7eme Art / Photo12

He appeared in dozens of other films, including Black Hawk Down, August: Osage County, and Steel Magnolias. He co-wrote 1984's Paris, Texas.

Shepard died from complications related to the motor neurone disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), known as Lou Gehrig's disease. A family spokesman said he died at home in Kentucky on Thursday,

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

More recently, he was seen as Robert Rayburn in two series of Netflix thriller Bloodline.

Like many of his works, Shepard's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Buried Child, the story of a family's dark secret, touched on disillusionment and broken families.

His other plays included the Tony-nominated True West, Curse of the Starving Class and Fool for Love. 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.

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 he was his "hero".

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."

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

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.