skip navigation
Sam Shepard

Sam Shepard

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Recent DVDs

Snow Falling on Cedars ... Moving emotional drama based on the best-selling book by DAvid Guterson.... more info $9.95was $14.98 Buy Now

Resurrection ... In Resurrection, an unforgettable story of love and devotion, Ellen Burstyn... more info $11.95was $14.98 Buy Now

The Return ... Joanna Mills has been having strange visions since she was 11 years old. The... more info $11.95was $14.98 Buy Now

Bandidas ... Originally released in 2006. Directed by Espen Sandberg, Joachim Roenning.... more info $18.95was $27.98 Buy Now

Inhale ... Originally released in 2011. Directed by Baltasar Korm kur, Baltasar Kormákur.... more info $11.95was $17.99 Buy Now

Black Hawk Down ... Directed by Ridley Scott. Starring Jason Isaacs, Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor. more info $11.95was $17.99 Buy Now

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, car wrecker, busboy, orange picker, herdsman, sheep shearer, horse breeder, ranch hand, waiter

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

ered good looks into movie stardom playing primarily Western characters that represent a dichotomy for the artist. He had a small role in the Hollywood biopic, "Frances" (1982), which introduced him to star and future companion, Jessica Lange, with whom he began a relationship while divorcing his wife, actress O-Lan Jones, in 1984.Despite being involved in theater for almost two decades at this point, Shepard had shied away from directing anything he wrote. That changed with "Fool for Love" (1983), which depicted a pair of quarreling lovers at a Mojave Desert motel and earned him his 11th overall OBIE award, but his first for Best Direction. Shepard next landed perhaps his most widely recognized film role, playing unflappable pilot Chuck Yeager in the epic drama about the birth of America's space program, "The Right Stuff" (1983). Shepard's restrained and minimalist performance - which mirrored the real life Yeager - was hailed by critics and audiences, including the man he portrayed on film. After starring opposite Lange in the rural drama, "Country" (1984), Shepard scripted Wim Wenders' atmospheric American odyssey "Paris, Texas" (1984), which won the prestigious Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film...

ered good looks into movie stardom playing primarily Western characters that represent a dichotomy for the artist. He had a small role in the Hollywood biopic, "Frances" (1982), which introduced him to star and future companion, Jessica Lange, with whom he began a relationship while divorcing his wife, actress O-Lan Jones, in 1984.

Despite being involved in theater for almost two decades at this point, Shepard had shied away from directing anything he wrote. That changed with "Fool for Love" (1983), which depicted a pair of quarreling lovers at a Mojave Desert motel and earned him his 11th overall OBIE award, but his first for Best Direction. Shepard next landed perhaps his most widely recognized film role, playing unflappable pilot Chuck Yeager in the epic drama about the birth of America's space program, "The Right Stuff" (1983). Shepard's restrained and minimalist performance - which mirrored the real life Yeager - was hailed by critics and audiences, including the man he portrayed on film. After starring opposite Lange in the rural drama, "Country" (1984), Shepard scripted Wim Wenders' atmospheric American odyssey "Paris, Texas" (1984), which won the prestigious Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. He next adapted his own play, "Fool for Love" (1985), for director Robert Altman, in which he also starred as Eddie, a cowboy drifter who re-enters the life of his old waitress lover (Kim Bassinger), rekindling both the passion and heated violence of their shared past.

Shepard made another triumphant return to the stage as writer and director with "A Lie of the Mind" (1986), a gritty three-act play about two families suffering the consequences of severe spousal abuse that was first staged off-Broadway at the Promenade Theater. Once again, the playwright earned several awards and accolades, including a Drama Desk Award and a New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best New Play. As his career progressed, Shepard began exploring other avenues of creative expression with more frequency, which left less time to focus on the theater. While early in his career he had at least one play - if not several - released just about every year, Shepard began writing fewer plays by the late 1980s, although the material he did produce was as challenging and engaging as ever. After producing the lesser-known "A Short Life of Trouble" (1987) and co-starring in the comedy "Baby Boom" (1987) opposite Diane Keaton, Shepard made his feature directorial debut with "Far North" (1988), an elliptical drama he wrote about the return of a citified woman (Jessica Lange) to her dour, repressive rural home in Minnesota, where she reverts to her childhood role of trying to prove herself to her injured father (Charles Durning).

Following a small, but noticeable role in "Steel Magnolias" (1989), Shepard co-starred in the contemporary Western, "Bright Angel" (1991), a desolate road movie about a Montana teenager (Dermot Mulroney) and a transient woman (Lili Taylor) who embark on a journey of self discovery after escaping their separate, but similarly troubled paths. After writing the blackmail drama "Simpatico" (1993) for the stage, Shepard made a return behind the camera for the metaphysical Western-cum-Greek tragedy, "Silent Tongue" (1994), which featured Alan Bates and the late River Phoenix. Following his induction into the Theater Hall of Fame in 1994, Shepard reunited with Chaikin for "When the World Was Green" (1996), a play commissioned for the Olympic Arts Festival in Atlanta and reprised for the Signature Theater Company's 1996-97 season that showcased several of his plays. Though Shepard declared the retrospective a bust, the offerings represented a cross-section of his work from old to new, demonstrating his range as a playwright. He was much more satisfied with a 1996 restaging of "Buried Child" on Broadway, directed by Gary Sinese, which earned a Tony Award nomination. Meanwhile, he published Cruising Paradise: Tales (1997), a collection of 40 short stories that explored the themes of solitude and loss.

As the new millennium approached, Shepard found himself in demand more as an actor, which gave him greater exposure to audiences, but unfortunately also limited his stage output for a spell. On the small screen, he starred as famed noir writer Dashiell Hammett in the made-for-television biopic, "Dash and Lily" (A&E, 1999). He next played a sheriff of an Old West town that actual turns out to be "Purgatory" (TNT, 1999). Following a co-starring role in "Snow Falling on Cedars" (1999) and a big screen adaptation of "Simpatico" (1999), Shepard played the Ghost of Hamlet's father in the contemporary adaptation of "Hamlet" (2000), which he followed with a supporting turn in "All the Pretty Horses" (2000). Back on the stage, he wrote "The Late Henry Moss" (2001), a minor work that covered the old ground of brothers struggling through a volatile relationship, which debuted at the Magic Theater. Continuing to act more than write, Shepard was seen in numerous onscreen projects, including "Black Hawk Down" (2001), "Swordfish" (2001) and "The Pledge" (2001).

As time wore on and the world became more darkly complex, Shepard's writing started becoming more political as a reflection of the times. With "The God of Hell" (2004), the playwright sought to tackle what he deemed "Republican fascism" by depicting a peaceful Wisconsin dairy farmer and his wife whose lives are destroyed by an overzealous and patriotic government employee. On the big screen, he co-starred in the psychological thriller "Blind Horizon" (2004), playing a busy small-town sheriff in New Mexico who is warned by a mysterious man (Val Kilmer) without any memory that the president will be assassinated. Following a small role in "The Notebook" (2004), Shepard teamed up with Wim Wenders again, writing the script for "Don't Come Knocking" (2005), the director's dark drama about a man (Shepard) trying to turn over a new leaf. He next played the commander of a top secret Navy squadron in "Stealth" (2005), followed by a supporting role in the Mexican Western "Bandidas" (2006). After narrating the endearing "Charlotte's Web" (2006), Shepard earned a SAG nomination for his performance in "Ruffian" (ABC, 2007). He played Frank James in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (2007), subsequently unveiled the play "Kicking a Dead Horse" (2007), starring Stephen Rea, and later appeared in Jim Sheridan's war-vet drama "Brothers" (2009).

In 2010, Shepard separated from Lange after decades together, though the two managed to keep the split under wraps for a while. After a small part in the tense, real-life-based drama "Fair Game" (2010), he made the unlikely move of taking on a lead role for "Blackthorn" (2011), a Western where he played an aged Butch Cassidy who must confront his outlaw past. Before long, Shepard turned up in numerous high-profile films, with a brief appearance in the crime movie "Killing Them Softly" (2012), featuring Brad Pitt, and a small role in the thriller "Safe House" (2012). Following a notable supporting part in the Southern Gothic tale "Mud" (2012), where he played a reluctant father figure to Matthew McConaughey's trouble-prone title character, he portrayed another flawed patriarchal role in the film adaptation of Tracy Letts's acclaimed play "August: Osage County" (2013), which found him acting opposite no less than Meryl Streep.eenwriter; the other an aimless drifter and thief - who encounter each other at their mother's home after years of separation. First performed at the Magic Theater in San Francisco, "True West" was revived on numerous occasions and starred several high-profile actors over the years, including Gary Sinese, John Malkovich, Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly. Meanwhile, thanks to his performance in "Days of Heaven," Shepard began landing other roles in features with greater regularity. Tall, lanky and brooding, he parlayed his weath

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

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

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Ithaca (2016)
2.
 Midnight Special (2016)
3.
4.
 Cold in July (2014)
5.
6.
8.
 Shepard & Dark (2013)
9.
 Mud (2013)
10.
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

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute