Sam Shepard passed away July 27 in his Kentucky home. He was 73 years old.
Not only did Shepard grace screens with award-winning performances in films such as “Black Hawk Down,” he also specialized in storytelling. The Pulitzer-winning playwright can be credited for plays including “Buried Child,” “Curse of the Starving Class” and “A Lie of the Mind.”
A spokesperson for his family has said that the actor and playwright passed away from “complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis,” also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
This disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that weakens muscles. According to The ALS Association, a little over 6,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year, based on U.S. population studies.
Shepard burst onto the scene as an actor in 1978 for his starring role in the film “Days of Heaven.”
Most recently, Shepard played in the Netflix show, “Bloodline.”
Before he became known as an actor, however, he was a major part of the off-Broadway movement, which means he was a part of creating Broadway-quality plays for a smaller budget to be shown in smaller theaters.
He saw similarities between acting and writing, and that’s what interested him most.
“There are places where writing is acting and acting is writing. I’m not so interested in the divisions. I’m interested in the way things cross over,” he said.
Writer, actor—regardless of how you categorize him or which work of his you’re familiar with, he was an artist.
And that’s how Hollywood will remember him.
Many celebrities have taken to social media to pay their respects, including actors Jason Alexander, George Takei, Don Cheadle, author Nicholas Sparks (Shepard played Frank Calhoun in the film version of Sparks’ book, “The Notebook”) , filmmaker Ava DuVernay and more:
A great man of the theater has passed. Thank you, Sam Shepard. RIP.
— jason alexander (@IJasonAlexander) July 31, 2017
Sam Shepard was a towering figure in American theater and film. He indeed had "the right stuff." His voice will truly be missed. https://t.co/gkkK8KHxum
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) July 31, 2017
— Nicholas Sparks (@NicholasSparks) July 31, 2017
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. pic.twitter.com/DQc0fy7EqN
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) July 31, 2017
A great like this will be sorely missed and not easily forgotten.