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Also Known As: Samuel Shepard Rogers Iii Died:
Born: November 5, 1943 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Fort Sheridan, Illinois, USA Profession: actor, screenwriter, playwright, director, musician, waiter, busboy, orange picker, herdsman, sheep shearer, horse breeder, ranch hand, car wrecker

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Perhaps one of the most influential and celebrated playwrights of the late 20th century, Sam Shepard developed an extensive body of work that was preoccupied with the myth of the vanishing West and dysfunctional families on the verge of tragedy. More existentialist and surrealist than romantic and conventional, Shepard often wrote plays that incorporated symbolism and non-linear storytelling while being populated with drifters, fading rock stars and others living on the edge. He also employed eccentric, inventive language - and sometimes music - to explore the parallel fantasy of disappearing from the known world. After getting his start with one-acts like "Cowboy" and "Icarus' Mother," Shepard won numerous awards with full length plays like "Curse of the Starving Class" (1978) and "Buried Child" (1978), the latter of which earned him a Pulitzer Prize in Drama. His playwriting career reached its zenith with the popular "True West" (1980), after which Shepard began focusing more on acting with roles in "The Right Stuff" (1983) and directing films like "Far North" (1988). By time he was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 1994, Shepard was far and away one of the greatest playwrights of his...

Perhaps one of the most influential and celebrated playwrights of the late 20th century, Sam Shepard developed an extensive body of work that was preoccupied with the myth of the vanishing West and dysfunctional families on the verge of tragedy. More existentialist and surrealist than romantic and conventional, Shepard often wrote plays that incorporated symbolism and non-linear storytelling while being populated with drifters, fading rock stars and others living on the edge. He also employed eccentric, inventive language - and sometimes music - to explore the parallel fantasy of disappearing from the known world. After getting his start with one-acts like "Cowboy" and "Icarus' Mother," Shepard won numerous awards with full length plays like "Curse of the Starving Class" (1978) and "Buried Child" (1978), the latter of which earned him a Pulitzer Prize in Drama. His playwriting career reached its zenith with the popular "True West" (1980), after which Shepard began focusing more on acting with roles in "The Right Stuff" (1983) and directing films like "Far North" (1988). By time he was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 1994, Shepard was far and away one of the greatest playwrights of his generation.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Silent Tongue (1993) Director
2.
  Far North (1988) Director
3.
  Tongues (1982) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Ithaca (2015)
3.
 Shepard & Dark (2013)
4.
 Mud (2013)
5.
6.
7.
8.
 Safe House (2012)
9.
 Blackthorn (2011)
10.
 Inhale (2010)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Brought up on a succession of military bases before his family settled on a farm near Duarte, CA
1963:
Changed his name to Sam Shepard on the bus ride to NYC
1964:
First produced play, "Cowboys" at Theatre Genesis in New York City
1969:
Contributed sketches to the stage musical revue "Oh! Calcutta!"
1969:
First film as screenwriter (co-written with director Robert Frank), the experimental "Me and My Brother"
1969:
First teleplay broadcast, "Fourteen Hundred Thousand" (NET)
1970:
First commercial film as co-screenwriter, "Zabriskie Point"; directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
1971:
First major stage appearance, "Cowboy Mouth" at American Place Theatre in New York; written with Patti Smith
1975:
Toured as drummer with Bob Dylan's "Rolling Thunder Revue"; later wrote book about experience
1978:
Screen acting debut, "Renaldo and Clara"; directed by Dylan
1978:
First major film role as Farmer in Terrence Malick's "Days of Heaven"
1979:
Initial collaboration with Joseph Chaiken, "Tongues"
1979:
Received Pulitzer Prize in Drama for "Buried Child"
1982:
First feature with Jessica Lange, "Frances"
1983:
Directed first major stage production, "Fool For Love" at Circle Repertory Company in NYC; received an OBIE as Best Director
1983:
Starred as legendary pilot Chuck Yeager in "The Right Stuff"; received Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor
1984:
Acted opposite Lange in "Country"
1984:
Wrote screenplay for Wim Wenders' "Paris, Texas"; feature won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Filme Festival
1985:
Adapted his play "Fool For Love" for the screen; feature directed by Robert Altman; also co-starred in film
1986:
Wrote and directed the stage play "A Lie of the Mind"
1986:
Reteamed with Lange for "Crimes of the Heart"; also first screen work with Diane Keaton
1987:
Played Dr Jeff Cooper in "Baby Boom" opposite Diane Keaton
1988:
Film directorial debut, "Far North"; last film to date with Lange; also wrote screenplay
1990:
Headlined Volker Schlondorff's thought-provoking "Voyager," an adaptation of Max Frisch's "Homo Faber" (1957)
1992:
Portrayed Frank Coutelle in "Thunderheart"
1993:
Wrote, directed and provided percussion for "Silent Tongue"
1995:
Bruce Beresford adapted Shepard's "Curse of the Starving Class" for Showtime movie presentation
1996:
Broadway debut as playwright with revised version of "Buried Child"; directed by Gary Sinise; earned a Tony nominations for Best Play
1996:
With Chaikin wrote "When the World Was Green"; commissioned for the Olympic Arts Festival in Atlanta
1997:
Reteamed with Peter Masterson for feature, "The Only Thrill"; film also starred Diane Keaton
1998:
"Sam Shepard: Stalking Himself" appeared as part of "Great Performances" (PBS)
1999:
Appeared in Scott Hicks' "Snow Falling on Cedars"
1999:
Starred as Dashiell Hammett opposite Judy Davis in the A&E biopic "Dash & Lilly"; garnered an Emmy nomination
2000:
Produced "True West" on Broadway with Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C Reilly, alternating leading roles; production garnered Tony nomination as Best Play
2000:
New play, "The Late Henry Moss" premiered in San Francisco, featuring Sean Penn, Woody Harrelson and Nick Nolte
2001:
Cast as the chief of detectives in "The Pledge" helmed by Sean Penn
2001:
Starred in Ridley Scott's "Black Hawk Down"
2004:
Cast in Nick Cassavetes' "The Notebook"
2006:
Played a washed up cowboy actor in the neo-Western "Don't Come Knocking"; also penned the screenplay
2007:
Co-starred with Frank Whaley in "Ruffian," an ESPN-produced TV movie based on the legendary racehorse; earned a SAG nomination for Outstanding Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
2007:
Cast as Jesse James' (Brad Pitt) brother in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"
2009:
Played the father of Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal in Jim Sheridan's remake of "Brothers"
2011:
Portrayed outlaw Butch Cassidy in the Western "Blackthorn"
2012:
Appeared in the action drama "Safe House" opposite Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds
2012:
Featured in the lauded drama "Mud"
2013:
Joined the ensemble cast of the film version of "August: Osage County"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Mount San Antonio Junior College: Walnut , California -
Lincoln Elementary School: South Pasadena , California -
Duarte High School: Duarte , California - 1961

Notes

He received a 1967 Rockefeller Foundation grant and a 1968 Guggenheim Foundation grant.

Shepard was awarded a fellowship from Yale University in 1968 and one from the University of Minnesota in 1969

Brandeis University presented him with the Creative Arts Medal in 1976.

"I still haven't gotten over this thing of walking down the street and somebody recognizing you because you've been in a movie. There's this illusion that movie stars only exist in the movies. And to see one live is like seeing a leopard let out of the zoo." --Sam Shepard quoted in The New York Times, November 13, 1994.

About why betrayal is so central to his work: "I feel it's in my bones somehow. It's something that has not only affected me personally, being raised up in this country, but that is in the whole fabric of the culture. I can't put my finger on it and I don't have the cure for it and I would never pretend to. It certainly feels, as time goes by, that there is a very mysterious betrayal of some kind that we don't understand. We keep paying for it and paying for it and we don't know why we're paying for it. There's all kinds of sociological bullshit you can explain it away with--genocide, for example--but we can't seem to come to terms with it as Americans. We don't seem to be able to face what has actually become of us." --Shepard in Interview, June 1996.

Writing to Joseph Chaikin in 1983: "Something's been coming to me lately about this whole question of being lost. It only makes sense to me in relation to an idea of one's identity being shattered under severe personal circumstances--in a state of crisis where everything that I've previously identified with myself suddenly falls away. A shock state, I guess you might call it. I don't think it makes much difference what the shock itself is--whether it's trauma to do with a loved one or a physical accident or whatever--the resulting emptiness or aloneness is what interests me. Particularly to do with questions like home? family? the identification of others over time? people I've known who are now lost to me even though still alive." --Sam Shepard quoted in American Theatre, July-August 1997.

"The really tragic thing about [Oedipus] isn't that he lost his eyes. The tragic thing is that he did everything he could to get out of his fate, and he just went falling right into it ... That really compels me." --Sam Shepard to New York, February 2, 1998.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
O-Lan Jones. Actor. Married on November 9, 1969; divorced in 1984; mother of Shepard's oldest son Jesse Mojo.
companion:
Patti Smith. Singer. Together in 1970-71; collaborated on "Cowboy Mouth".
companion:
Jessica Lange. Actor. Began relationship while filming "Frances" (1982); mother of Shepard's two younger children.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Samuel Shepard Rogers. US Army officer. Born on February 3, 1917; died in a fire in 1984 at age 67.
mother:
Jane Elaine Rogers. Born on July 16, 1917.
sister:
Roxanne Rogers. Younger.
sister:
Sandy Rogers.
son:
Jesse Mojo Shepard. Born in May 1970; mother, O-Lan Jones.
daughter:
Hannah Jane Shepard. Born c. 1985; mother Jessica Lange.
son:
Samuel Walker Shepard. Born on June 14, 1987 in Virginia; mother Jessica Lange.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Hawk Moon: A Book of Short Stories, Poems, and Monologues" Black Sparrow Press
"Rolling Thunder Logbook" Viking
"Motel Chronicles" City Lights
"Sam Shepard" Dell
"Sam Shepard: The Life and Work of an American Dreamer" St. Martin's Press
"Sam Shepard's Metaphorical Stages" Greenwood Press
"Joseph Chaikin and Sam Shepard: Letters and Texts, 1972-1984" New American Library
"Bear Mountain"
"Sam Shepard" Twayne
"Rereading Shepard: Contemporary Critical Essays on the Plays of Sam Shepard" St. Martin's Press
"Sam Shepard: Theme, Image, and the Director" P. Lang
"True Lies: The Architecture of the Fantastic in the Plays of Sam Shepard" P. Lang
"Cruising Paradise, Tales" Alfred A. Knopf
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

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