US actor, playwright Sam Shepard dead at 73: US media

Sam Shepard, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Oscar-nominated actor whose career spanned nearly five decades, has died, US media reported Monday. He was 73.

Playwright and actor Sam Shepard, seen here at the Cannes film festival in 2005, won a Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1979 for his play "Buried Child" and an Academy Award for his supporting role in the 1983 movie "The Right Stuff"
Playwright and actor Sam Shepard, seen here at the Cannes film festival in 2005, won a Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1979 for his play "Buried Child" and an Academy Award for his supporting role in the 1983 movie "The Right Stuff" (AFP)

Sam Shepard, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Oscar-nominated actor whose career spanned nearly five decades, has died, US media reported Monday. He was 73.

Shepard died at home in Kentucky of complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, The New York Times reported, citing a family spokesman.

Shepard, who wrote nearly 50 plays, won the Pulitzer for drama in 1979 for his play "Buried Child" and was nominated for an Academy Award in 1984 for best actor in a supporting role for the 1983 movie "The Right Stuff."

One of his most recent roles was in the Netflix television series "Bloodline."

Born in Fort Sheridan, Illinois in 1943, he was the son of a teacher mother and Army officer father, who was a bomber pilot during World War II.

Shepard had a nomadic early childhood, moving from base to base around the country before graduating from high school in Duarte, California.

He started acting and writing while still in high school, and spent a year studying agriculture before joining a traveling theater company and later moving to New York, where he began writing plays.

He became playwright in residence at San Francisco's Magic Theater and also worked in Hollywood as a writer on "Zabriskie Point" in 1970, until his role as Chuck Yeager in "The Right Stuff" brought him a wider audience.

"Paris, Texas," for which he wrote the screenplay, won the Palme D'Or at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival.

In 1986, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His plays are performed on and off Broadway and in all the major regional America