Sam Shepard, the celebrated avant-garde playwright and Oscar-nominated actor, has died today at his home in Kentucky. He was 73.

A spokesman for the Shepard family said the cause was complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

One of the most important and influential early writers in the Off Broadway movement,
Sam Shepard was known for capturing and chronicling the darker sides of American family life in plays like “Buried Child,” which won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1979, and “Curse of the Starving Class” and “A Lie of the Mind.”
He was widely regarded as one of the most original voices of his generation, winning praise from critics for his searing portraits of spouses, siblings and lovers struggling with issues of identity, failure and the fleeting nature of the American dream. He was nominated for two other Pulitzers, for “True West” and “Fool for Love,” which both received Broadway productions.

Mr. Shepard was also an accomplished actor, nominated for an Academy Award for his supporting role in “The Right Stuff.” As an actor, his first notable role was in Terrence Malick’s “Days of Heaven” in 1978. He went on to star in “Baby Boom”, “Steel Magnolias”, “The Pelican Brief”, “Black Hawk Down”, “The Notebook” and “August: Osage County”. He was most recently seen in the Netflix drama “Bloodline”, alongside Sissy Spacek.

Before his death, he completed a role in the psychological thriller “Never Here” with Mireille Enos. This year also saw the release of his book “The One Inside”, a series of conversations with himself. He is survived by three children.

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