With the news of the passing of Sam Shepard, award-winning playwright, author, director and actor, Hollywood and the world of letters have both lost one of their leading lights.
In a career that lasted over fifty years, it was theatre that made Shepard’s reputation. Winning the Pulitzer Prize for his play Buried Child in 1975, the actor became one of the 20th century’s great dramatic voices.
But for most of us, Shepard will be remembered more for his work on film, where he built up a formidable CV as an actor. Whether it be his star turn in The Right Stuff (for which he was nominated for an Academy Award) or more recent supporting roles in smaller films like Mud and Midnight Special, Shepard was never less than compelling.
His life outside the stage and screen was no less compelling, with creative and romantic partnerships formed with Patti Smith and Jessica Lange, no less. With Smith, Shepard wrote and performed the play Cowboy Mouth, which was inspired by their passionate but short-lived romance in the 1970s. His relationship with Lange lasted nearly 30 years, and produced 2 children, and was seen as the coming together of two artistic heavyweights.
2017 may have claimed another great talent, but in the case of Sam Shepard, that talent still shines through in all the great work that he has left us. Chris Prindiville