Sam Shepard, actor and playwright, dead at 73

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and actor Sam Shepard, died at his Kentucky home Thursday, Fox News learned Monday. He was 73.

A family spokesperson told us the Oscar-nominated actor and celebrated author whose plays chronicled the explosive fault lines of family and masculinity in the American West, died from complications related to Lou Gehrig’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

The taciturn Shepard, who grew up on a California ranch, was a man of few words who nevertheless produced 44 plays and numerous books, memoirs and short stories. He was one of the most influential playwrights of his generation: a plain-spoken poet of the modern frontier, both lyrical and rugged.

In his 1971 one-act “Cowboy Mouth, which he wrote with his then girlfriend, musician and poet Patti Smith, one character says, “People want a street angel. They want a saint but with a cowboy mouth” — a role the tall and handsome Shepard fulfilled for many.

“I was writing basically for actors,” Shepard told The Associated Press in a 2011 interview. “And actors immediately seemed to have a handle on it, on the rhythm of it, the sound of it, the characters. I started to understand there was this possibility of conversation between actors and that’s how it all started.”

Shepard’s Western drawl and laconic presence made him a reluctant movie star, too. He appeared in dozens of films — many of them Westerns — including Terrence Malick’s “Days of Heaven,” ”Steel Magnolias,” ”The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” and 2012’s “Mud.” He was nominated for an Oscar for his performance as pilot Chuck Yeager in 1983’s “The Right Stuff.” Among his most recent roles was the Florida Keys patriarch of the Netflix series “Bloodline.”

But Shepard was best remembered for his influential plays and his prominent role in the…

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