Sam Shepard Biography, Life, Interesting Facts
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American actor and writer Sam Shepard was born Samuel Shepard Rogers III in Fort Sheridan, Illinois to Jane Schook, a teacher, and Samuel Shepard Rogers, a former US army pilot, farmer and teacher. The family moved from time to time, living in both Florida and Utah before settling in California where they owned an avocado farm in Duarte.
Shepard graduated from Duarte High School and then studied agriculture at Mt San Antonio College.
Rise To Fame
His father was an alcoholic, and after a family dispute, Shepard left home. At some stage, he became interested in writing and went to New York City where he did various menial jobs while at the same time beginning to write one-act plays. His plays made an impact, and he quickly gained attention with works such as Cowboys, The Rock Garden, Icarus’s Mother and La Turista.
In the late 1960s, he was co-writer of the script for Me and My Brother (1969) as well as Zabriskie Point (1970), Cowboy Mouth (1971) - which he wrote and starred in alongside Patti Smith; and Back Bog Beast Bait (1971). He moved to London in the early 1970s where he was introduced to the stage director Peter Brook who influenced him. After returning to the United States, he toured with Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue and also worked on Dylan’s film Renaldo and Clara (1978).
During the late 1970s, Shepard was playwright-in-residence at the Magic Theatre, San Francisco. Plays he wrote during this time include Curse of the Starving Class, Buried Child, True West and Fool for Love (1983) and A Lie of the Mind. He was also acting in film and appeared in Frances (1982), Country (1984) and Crimes of the Heart (1986), Baby Boom (1987), Steel Magnolias (1989), He directed Far North (1988) and Silent Tongue (1993). As a writer of short fiction, published Cruising Paradise (1996), Day Out of Days: Stories (2010). His only novel, The One Inside was published in 2010.
He was in Black Hawk Down (2001), The Notebook (2004), Killing Them Softly (2012) and Cold in July (2014).
Awards And Achievements
Shepard won a Pulitzer Prize for Buried Child. He was nominated for an Academy Award: Best Supporting Actor for The Right Stuff (1983). In 1992 the American Academy of Arts and Letters presented him with a gold medal for drama, he was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame and was nominated for a 2012 Cinema Writers Circle Best Actor award for Blackthorn. He also won nine Obie awards plus many other awards and nominations.
He married actress O-Lan Jones in 1969, and they had a son Jesse Mojo (b.1970). The couple divorced in 1984. During this time, between 1970 and 1971, he had a relationship with the musician Patti Smith. He met the actress Jessica Lange while filming Frances in 1983 and they began a relationship which lasted until 2009. Lange and Shepard had two children: Hannah (b.1985) and Samuel Walker (b.1987). Sam Shepard died on the 27 July 2017 from complications of motor neuron disease, ALS also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.