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Actor and playwright Sam Shepard dies aged 73

Sam Shepard was surrounded by family when he passed away on Thursday

sam shepard
Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
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Sam Shepard, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, sadly passed away on Thursday as his home in Kentucky, US. He was 73. Sam, who was also nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1983, suffered complications from motor neuron disease (ALS). A spokesman confirmed that his family were with him when he died. He is survived by his three children, Jesse, Hannah and Walker, and his sisters, Sandy and Roxanne Rogers.

sam shepard© Photo: Getty Images

Sam passed away aged 73 

Sam wrote over 40 plays during his career, and appeared in films including The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford alongside Brad Pitt, and August: Osage County. He most recently starred in the Netflix hit Bloodline as Robert Rayburn. Colleagues and admirers of the playwright were quick to offer their condolences, with fellow playwright Beau Willimon writing: "Sam Shepard is one of the greats. These eyes saw so much, and he wrote of what he saw with fearless, timeless honesty. RIP maestro." Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster Waldau tweeted: "A hero of theatre. A hero of writing. A hero of acting. A hero of mine. Sam Shepard RIP."

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Sam Shepard as Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff

The director of The Right Stuff, Philip Kaufman, also paid tribute to the star, telling the New York Times about his experience working with Sam while filming the historical drama. "He was playing Yeager, but for the other actors who worked with him, he was Sam," he said. "He was such a cool guy with as perfect an ear as I've ever come across. He could hear and reproduce sounds in a way — I don't know — that maybe Bob Dylan could do."