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Playwright, Actor Sam Shepard Dies

LEXINGTON, KY (CelebrityAccess) — Sam Shepard, a Pulitzer-winning playwright, and actor whose theatrical productions such as "Buried Son" (1978) and “True West” (1980) helped to redefine the concept of the American western myth, has died. He was 73.

According to the New York Times, a spokesman for the Shepard family said that he died of complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, at his home in Kentucky.

Born in Illinois as Sam Rogers III, Shepard attended high school in Los Angeles, and attended Mt. San Antonio College, but soon dropped out to join a touring repertory company before making his way to New York City.

While in New York, Shepard became involved in the Off-Off-Broadway theatre scene and became a writer for Theatre Genesis, where he penned Beckett-influenced work such as the one-act plays Cowboys and The Rock Garden.

In the 1970s, Shepard went west, serving as the playwright-in-residence at the Magic Theatre, where he wrote some of his most acclaimed works, including the "Family Trilogy" which earned Shepard a Pulitzer and marked the starting point of one of the most productive periods in his career.

In addition to his work as a playwright, Shepard also acted, both on stage and on screen. Notable roles include Days of Heaven (1978), Resurrection (1980) and his Academy Award-winning portrayal of famed test pilot Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff (1983).

Mr. Shepard is survived by his three children and two sisters. – Staff Writers