Sam Shepard, 1943-2017

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Pulitzer prize-winning playwright, actor, and writer Sam Shepard has died.

Shepard was born Samuel Shepard Rogers on November 5th, 1943, in Fort Sheridan, Illinois.  His father was an Army officer and former Air Force pilot, so the family moved frequently from military base to military base across the country.  By the time Shepard graduated from high school, he was living in California.  Having worked on a ranch as a teenager, he briefly studied agriculture at Mount Antonio Junior College, but dropped out to pursue acting and writing. 

Before long, Shepard had found his place in the Off-Off-Broadway scene in New York City and adopted the name he would use professionally.  His first plays were staged in 1964, and soon after his work began to receive critical acclaim.  He won three Obie Awards for his one act plays "Chicago," "Icarus' Mother," and "Red Cross," all in 1966, and a fourth Obie in 1967 for "La Turista," his first full-length dramatic work.

Though Shepard continued to produce award-winning stage plays at a rapid pace, including his Pulitzer-winning "Buried Child," he was by no means limited to this one art form.  He was also a musician, playing with the band The Holy Modal Rounders and Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Review.  He began acting in films in 1978, when he was cast as the lead in  Terrence Malick's "Days of Heaven" and quickly found himself in demand as an actor as well as a playwright.  He was nominated for an Oscar for his role as Chuck Yeager in "The Right Stuff" and appeared in more than 60 films all told.  He was also a screenwriter, stage actor, and director, most often of his own plays.  He published several volumes of short fiction, including Cruising Paradise: Tales, and a novel: The One Inside.

Though his career was spread across several fields, Shepard's primary contribution was to theater.  He was the author of more than 50 plays, twelve of which won Obie Awards and which earned him two Pulitzer nominations in addition to his Pulitzer Prize.  His works have been staged all over the country and have been performed by major talents of both stage and screen.  In addition to his great success in creating his own body of work, Shepard also passed along his passion for writing and theatre to the next generation of artists.  He offered a multitude of seminars, classes, and other learning opportunities for students across the country and his influence has been felt in film, theatre, music, and beyond.

Shepard passed away on July 27th following complications of ALS.  He was 73.


Fifteen One-Act Plays (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345802767
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - August 14th, 2012

A Particle of Dread Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101974391
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - March 21st, 2017

Buried Child Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307274977
Availability: Available to ship immediately
Published: Vintage Books USA - February 14th, 2006

Sam Shepard: Seven Plays: Buried Child, Curse of the Starving Class, the Tooth of Crime, La Turista, Tongues, Savage Love, True West Cover Image
By Sam Shepard, Richard Gilman (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780553346114
Availability: Available to ship immediately
Published: Dial Press - May 1st, 1984

The One Inside Cover Image
By Sam Shepard, Patti Smith (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9780451494580
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - February 7th, 2017

Motel Chronicles Cover Image
ISBN: 9780872861435
Availability: Available to ship immediately
Published: City Lights Books - January 1st, 2001

Cruising Paradise: Tales Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679742173
Availability: Available to ship immediately
Published: Vintage - June 24th, 1997

Two Prospectors: The Letters of Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark (Southwestern Writers Collection Series) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780292761964
Availability: Available to ship immediately
Published: University of Texas Press - March 1st, 2017