Pulitzer Prize winning author and actor Sam Shepard’s death is being mourned by the literary world and the Hollywood. The actor, one of the best known playwrights of our times, breathed his last two days ago. He was 73
The world seems to be in the mourning right now and social media seems to have slowed down as tributes pour in, remembering the great person that Sam Shepard was.
Hollywood director Ava DuVernay, in a tweet said, “May he rest in love…Sam Shepard. Whenever he came on-screen, you knew you were in good hands. A frame from “Days of Heaven.” May he rest in love.
Rainn Wilson tweeted a heartfelt message. The actor, who is best known for his role as Dwight Schrute on the American version of the television comedy The Office said, “R.I.P. Sam Shepard – cowboy poet dramatist of the American family shadow. A legend”.
Sam Shepard, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for his play Buried Child, which launched his career as a playwright was also nominated for other drama Pulitzers, in 1983 for the playTrue West and in 1984 for the play Fool for Love. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of pilot Chuck Yeager in 1983’s The Right Stuff, a role that seemed to embody Shepard’s own laconic personality.
Shepard’s early science fiction play The Unseen Hand (1969) not just became very popular, but also influenced Richard O’Brien’s stage musical The Rocky Horror Show. Shepard’s Cowboy Mouth – a collaboration with his then-lover Patti Smith – was staged at The American Place Theater in April 1971, providing early exposure for the future punk rock singer. The story and characters were loosely inspired by their relationship, and after opening night, he abandoned the production and fled to New England without a word to anyone involved.
Later, he was named playwright-in-residence at the Magic Theatre in 1975, where he created many of his notable works, including his Family Trilogy. One of the plays in the trilogy, Buried Child (1978), was the play that won him a Pulitzer Prize and marked a major turning point in his career, heralding some of his best-known work, including True West (1980), Fool for Love (1983), and A Lie of the Mind (1985).
There is no denying the fact that Sam Shepard had a very colorful personal life. He dated and married some of the most beautiful women of his time. From 1969 to 1984, he was married to O-Lan Jones, with whom he has a son, Jesse Mojo Shepard, born in 1970, also an author. Jones, whose first name comes from the heroine of the novel The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. Her father left the family when his daughter was a child. Her mother, Scarlett Johnson, married Johnny Dark. In 1979, Scarlett suffered a stroke and aphasia. She is an alumna of New Dramatists.
The renowned author met Academy Award-winning actress Jessica Lange on the set of the film Frances, in which they were both acting. He moved in with her in 1983, and they were together for nearly 30 years; they separated in 2009. They had two children, Hannah Jane and Samuel Walker Shepard. In 2003, his eldest son, Jesse, wrote a book of short stories that was published in San Francisco; Shepard appeared with him at a reading to introduce the book.