Shepard died at his Kentucky home surrounded by loved ones, his family announced Monday. The celebrated playwright and actor had been battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, family spokesperson Chris Boneau told ABC News. He was 73.
Rest with the angels, Sam Shepard. My condolences to all that loved him. https://t.co/EmkNymyohG
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) July 31, 2017
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) July 31, 2017
— Ron Perlman (@perlmutations) July 31, 2017
Literally bumped into Sam Shepard many years ago, both of us on our way to see Pillow Man on Broadway. We had a great chat/walk. #hero RIP
— Don Cheadle (@DonCheadle) July 31, 2017
A great man of the theater has passed. Thank you, Sam Shepard. RIP.
— jason alexander (@IJasonAlexander) July 31, 2017
A hero of theatre. A hero of writing. A hero of acting. A hero of mine. Sam Shepard RIP.
— Nikolaj CosterWaldau (@nikolajcw) July 31, 2017
Sam Shepard was a towering figure in American theater and film. He indeed had “the right stuff.” His voice will truly be missed. https://t.co/gkkK8KHxum
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) July 31, 2017
Earlier this year I worked on Sam Shepard’s True West. His words and characters gave an actor countless gifts to play with.
He was a master.
— Ethan Embry (@EmbryEthan) July 31, 2017
Jeanne Moreau, Sam Shepard thank you for enlighten us at 24 frames per second. RIP pic.twitter.com/fPi6HTLnzp
— Antonio Banderas (@antoniobanderas) July 31, 2017
Over the course of his prolific career, Shepard wrote more than 40 plays and won the Pulitzer Prize for his drama, Buried Child, in 1979. He is one of the most influential early writers in the Off Broadway movement, and had a particular knack for capturing the darker side of American family life. (Common themes included combative spouses, siblings struggling to find their identities and the failed American Dream.)
Shepard also displayed his talents on-screen as well, most notably in his Oscar-nominated role in 1983’s The Right Stuff, as well as 1986’s Crimes of the Heart, 1989’s Steel Magnolias and 1999’s Dash and Lilly. He most recently starred in Netflix’s 2015 Bloodline and had a role in this year’s Never Here, which hit theaters this past June.
He has worked with actors ranging from Julia Roberts, Diane Keaton and Sissy Spacek to John Malkovich, Meryl Streep and Richard Gere.
Shepard had a high-profile romance with Oscar-winning actress Jessica Lange from 1982 to 2009, and the pair welcomed two children. The actor also has a son from a previous relationship.
He is survived by his children – Jesse, Hannah and Walker Shepard – and his sisters, Sandy and Roxanne Rogers.