Play­wright, ac­tor Shep­ard dies at 73

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - OBITUARIES -

Sam Shep­ard, the ex­per­i­men­tal­ist cow­boy-style poet who be­came one of the most sig­nif­i­cant Amer­i­can play­wrights of the 20th cen­tury, died Thurs­day at his farm in Ken­tucky. He was 73.

A fam­ily spokesman, Chris Boneau, con­firmed his death Mon­day and said the cause was com­pli­ca­tions from amy­otrophic lat­eral scle­ro­sis, or Lou Gehrig’s dis­ease.

Shep­ard won the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for drama for his play Buried Child and got an Os­car nom­i­na­tion for his role as avi­a­tor Chuck Yea­ger in the 1983 film The Right Stuff.

In his the­atri­cal works both po­etic and myth­i­cal, Shep­ard ex­plored the in­ter­sec­tions of an un­ruly Amer­i­can West and the deep com­plex­i­ties of the frac­tur­ing Amer­i­can fam­ily.

His best-known plays — in­clud­ing True West (1980, about two war­ring broth­ers), Fool for Love (1983, about a tor­tured ro­mance) and A Lie of the Mind (1985, about a bat­tered woman psy­cho­log­i­cally teth­ered to a man) — were packed with phys­i­cal fights and lyri­cal, some­times in­scrutable mono­logues. The vis­ceral power and in­trigu­ing sub­text of his plays made him a sta­ple on the coun­try’s stages through the 1970s and well into the 1990s.

Shep­ard con­tin­ued to act, di­rect and write into the 2000s. His 2004 The God of Hell took aim at U.S. pol­icy on tor­ture, with a mys­te­ri­ous gov­ern­ment agent send­ing elec­tric cur­rent through a sus­pect as Amer­i­can flags pro­lif­er­ated on the stage.

Shep­ard was bet­ter known beyond the­ater cir­cles for his movie act­ing, no­tably for his Academy Award-nom­i­nated per­for­mance in The Right Stuff. His rugged good looks and plain-spo­ken style made him mag­netic on screen in roles rang­ing from Diane Keaton’s love in­ter­est (a farm vet­eri­nar­ian) in Baby Boom (1987) to the brood­ing Ed­die op­po­site Kim Basinger’s tough May in the 1985 Robert Altman film of Shep­ard’s Fool for Love.

Early cred­its in­cluded a lead­ing role as a farmer in the nearly word­less Ter­rence Mal­ick film Days of Heaven (1978). He played the hus­band of Dolly Par­ton’s char­ac­ter in Steel Mag­no­lias (1989) and ap­peared in Black Hawk Down (2001), about the 1993 raid in Mo­gadishu, So­ma­lia.

More re­cent screen cred­its in­cluded Au­gust: Osage County (2013) and the Net­flix TV se­ries Blood­line, in which he por­trayed Robert Ray­burn. He directed two films, Far North (1988) — star­ring his long­time part­ner Jes­sica Lange — and Silent Tongue (1993).

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.