Peter Travers on Sam Shepard: The Cowboy-Mouth Poet of Stage and Screen
Sam Shepard famously hated endings. As a playwright, he felt “the temptation towards resolution, towards wrapping up the package, seems to me a terrible trap.”
He got that right. So Shepard leaves us to deal with his ending, a death at 73 at his home in Kentucky, surrounded by family. ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, was the culprit. The obits pay rightful respect to him as a playwright, actor, author, screenwriter and director. They point out that Shepard was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of pilot Chuck Yeager in the 1983 film The Right Stuff. They note that he wrote 44 plays, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for Buried Child, and that his work – notably Fool for Love, True West, Curse of the Starving Class and A Lie of the Mind – are as influential as anything by Tennessee Williams, Eugene O’Neill and Arthur Miller.
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Sam Shepard and Patti Smith at the Hotel Chelsea – May 7, 1971
Photo by David Gahr