- Sam Shepard
Shepard on the set of the film Stealth (2005).
Born Samuel Shepard Rogers III
November 5, 1943
Fort Sheridan, Illinois, U.S.
Occupation Actor, author, playwright Years active 1960s–present Spouse O-Lan Johnson Jones (m. 1969–1984) Partner Jessica Lange (1983-present)
Sam Shepard (born November 5, 1943) is an American playwright, actor, and television and film director. He is the author of several books of short stories, essays, and memoirs, and received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for his play Buried Child. Shepard was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of pilot Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff (1983).
Born Samuel Shepard Rogers IV in Fort Sheridan, Illinois, he worked on a ranch as a teenager. His father, Samuel Shepard Rogers, Jr., was a teacher and farmer who served in the United States Army Air Forces as a bomber pilot during World War II. His mother, Jane Elaine (née Schook), was a teacher and a native of Chicago, Illinois. After high school, Shepard briefly attended college, but dropped out to join a travelling theater group. He was also a drummer for the eccentric late-1960s rock band The Holy Modal Rounders, featured in the movie Easy Rider (1969).
Shepard became involved in New York City's Off-Off-Broadway theater scene beginning at the age of nineteen. Although his plays were staged at several Off-Off-Broadway venues, he was most closely connected with Theatre Genesis, housed at St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery in Manhattan's East Village. He acted occasionally in those days, but his interests were almost exclusively confined to writing, up until the late 1970s. Most of his writing was for the stage, but he had early screen-writing credits for Me and My Brother (1968) and Antonioni's Zabriskie Point (1970). His early science-fiction play, The Unseen Hand, influenced Richard O'Brien's stage musical Rocky Horror Show. After three years of living in England, in 1976 Shepard relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area in California and was named playwright-in-residence at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco where many of his works received their premier productions. Notable work includes Buried Child (1978), Curse of the Starving Class (1978), True West (1980) and A Lie of the Mind (1985). He also continued with his collaboration with Bob Dylan that started with the surrealist film Renaldo and Clara (1978) and co-wrote with Dylan an epic, 11-minute song entitled "Brownsville Girl", included on Dylan's Knocked Out Loaded (1986) album and later compilations.
Shepard began his acting career in earnest when he was cast as the handsome land baron in Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven (1978), opposite Richard Gere and Brooke Adams. This led to other important films and roles, most notably his portrayal of Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff (1983), earning him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. By 1986, one of his plays, Fool for Love, was being made into a film directed by Robert Altman; his play A Lie of the Mind was Off-Broadway with an all-star cast including Harvey Keitel and Geraldine Page; he was living with Jessica Lange; and he was working steadily as a film actor—all of which put him on the cover of Newsweek magazine.
Throughout the years, Shepard has done a considerable amount of teaching on writing plays and other aspects of theatre. His classes and seminars have occurred at various theatre workshops, festivals, and universities. During the 1970s he served a stint as a Regents Professor at the University of California, Davis.
In 2000, Shepard decided to repay a debt of gratitude to the Magic Theatre by staging his play The Late Henry Moss as a benefit in San Francisco. The cast included Nick Nolte, Sean Penn, Woody Harrelson, and Cheech Marin. The limited, three-month run was sold out.
In 2001, Shepard had a notable role of General William F. Garrison in the box office hit and cult classic movie Black Hawk Down. Although he was cast in a supporting role, it reinvigorated interest in Shepard among the public and critics alike.
He performed Spalding Gray's final monologue Life Interrupted for its audio release through Macmillan Audio in 2006.
Although many artists have had an influence on Shepard's work, one of the most significant has been actor-director Joseph Chaikin, a veteran of the Living Theatre and founder of a group called the Open Theatre. The two have often worked together on various projects, and Shepard acknowledges that Chaikin has been a valuable mentor.
A revival of A Lie of the Mind in New York was staged at the same time as his 2010 play, Ages of the Moon, also opened there. Reflecting on the two plays, Shephard said that the older, longer play feels to him "awkward ...[, a]ll of the characters are in a fractured place, broken into pieces, and the pieces don’t really fit together," while the newer play "is like a Porsche. ... It’s sleek, it does exactly what you want it to do, and it can speed up but also shows off great brakes." The revival and new play also coincided with the publication of the collection Day out of Days: Stories (book title echoing a film-making term), also by Shepard. The book includes "short stories, poems and narrative sketches ... that developed from dozens of leather-bound notebooks [Shepard] has carried with him over the years."
In 2011 Shepard will star in Blackthorn, in theaters Oct 7th.
At the beginning of his playwriting career, Shepard did not direct his own plays. His earliest plays were directed by a number of different directors but most frequently by Ralph Cook, the founder of Theatre Genesis. Later, while living at the Flying Y Ranch in Mill Valley, just north of San Francisco, Shepard formed a successful playwright-director relationship with Robert Woodruff, who directed the premiere of Buried Child (1982), among other plays. During the 1970s, though, Shepard decided that his vision of his plays required that he should direct them himself. He has since directed many of his own plays, but with a few rare exceptions, he has not directed plays by other playwrights. He has also directed two films but apparently does not see film direction as a major interest.
When Shepard first arrived in New York, he roomed with Charlie Mingus, Jr., a friend of his from high school and son of famous jazz musician Charles Mingus. Then he lived with actress Joyce Aaron. He later married actress O-Lan Jones (born O-Lan Johnson, alias O-Lan Johnson Dark, alias O-Lan Barna) from 1969 to 1984, with whom he has one son, Jesse Mojo Shepard (born 1970). After the end of his relationship with the singer and musician Patti Smith, Shepard met Academy-Award-winning actress Jessica Lange on the set of a film they were both acting in, Frances. He moved in with her in 1983, and they have been together ever since. They have two children, Hannah Jane (born 1985) and Samuel Walker Shepard (born 1987). In 2005 Jesse Shepard wrote a book of short stories which was published in San Francisco, and his father appeared together with him at a reading to introduce the book.
Although he played the legendary test pilot Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff, and went through an airliner crash in the film Voyager (1992), Shepard is known for his aversion to flying. According to one account, he vowed never to fly again after a very rocky trip on an airliner coming back from Mexico in the 1960s. However, he allowed the real Chuck Yeager to take him up in a jet plane in 1982 when he was preparing for his role as Yeager in The Right Stuff.
In the early morning hours of January 3, 2009, Shepard was arrested and charged with speeding and drunken driving in Normal, Illinois; his blood alcohol content was allegedly 0.175. Shepard was taken to the McLean County Jail, in Bloomington, IL, and posted bond after processing. He pleaded guilty to both charges on February 11, 2009 and was sentenced to 24 months probation, alcohol education classes, and 100 hours of community service.
Awards and honors
Year Nominated work(s) Category Result 1966 Chicago, Icarus's Mother, Red Cross Obie Award for Best Distinguished Play(s) Won 1967 La Turista Won 1968 Forensic and the Navigator, Melodrama Play Won 1973 The Tooth of Crime Won 1975 Action Obie Award for Best Playwriting Won 1977 Curse of the Starving Class Obie Award for Best New American Play Won 1979 Buried Child Obie Award for Best Playwriting Won Pulitzer Prize for Drama Won 1980 Himself Obie Award for Sustained Achievement Won 1984 Fool for Love Obie Award for Best New American Play Won Obie Award for Best Direction Won The Right Stuff Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor Nominated 1985 Paris, Texas BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay Nominated 1986 A Lie of the Mind Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play Won New York Drama Critics' Circle for Best Play Won Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Play Won 1992 Himself American Academy of Arts and Letters - Gold Medal for Drama Won 1994 American Theatre Hall of Fame Inducted 1996 Buried Child Tony Award for Best Play Nominated 1997 Hallmark Hall of Fame: "Lily Dale" Lone Star Film & Television Award for Best TV Supporting Actor Nominated 1999 Dash and Lilly Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Nominated 2000 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Film Nominated True West Tony Award for Best Play Nominated 2002 Black Hawk Down Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Acting Ensemble Nominated 2008 Ruffian SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries Nominated
Bibliography Year Title Notes 1964 Cowboys The Rock Garden 1965 Chicago Icarus's Mother 4-H Club 1966 Red Cross 1967 La Turista Cowboys #2 Forensic & the Navigators 1969 The Unseen Hand Oh! Calcutta! contributed sketches 1970 The Holy Ghostly Operation Sidewinder 1971 Mad Dog Blues Back Bog Beast Bait Cowboy Mouth with Patti Smith 1972 The Tooth of Crime 1974 Geography of a Horse Dreamer 1975 Action 1976 Suicide in B Flat Angel City 1977 Inacoma 1978 Buried Child Curse of the Starving Class Tongues with Joseph Chaikin 1980 True West 1981 Savage Love with Joseph Chaikin 1983 Fool for Love 1985 A Lie of the Mind 1987 A Short Life of Trouble 1991 States of Shock 1993 Simpatico 1994 Safe Passage 1998 Eyes for Consuela 2000 The Late Henry Moss 2004 The God of Hell 2007 Kicking a Dead Horse 2009 Ages of the Moon
Collections Year Title Notes 1973 Hawk Moon PAJ Books, ISBN 0-933826-23-0 1983 Motel Chronicles City Lights, ISBN 0-87286-143-0 1984 Seven Plays Dial Press, 368 pages, ISBN 0-553-34611-3 Fool For Love and Other Plays Bantam, 320 pages, ISBN 0-553-34590-7 1996 The Unseen Hand: and Other Plays Vintage, 400 pages, ISBN 0-679-76789-4 1997 Cruising Paradise Vintage, 255 pages, ISBN 0-679-74217-4 2003 Great Dream Of Heaven Vintage, 160 pages, ISBN 0-375-70452-3 2004 Rolling Thunder Logbook Da Capo, 176 pages, reissue, ISBN 0-306-81371-8 2010 Day out of Days: Stories Knopf, 304 pages, ISBN 978-0-307-26540-1
As actor Year Title Role 1963 Apples In the Tree 1965 Rusakai 1970 Brand X 1978 Renaldo and Clara Rodeo Days of Heaven The Farmer 1980 Resurrection Cal Carpenter 1981 Raggedy Man Bailey 1982 Frances Harry York 1983 The Right Stuff Chuck Yeager 1984 Paris, Texas unconfirmed Country Gil Ivy 1986 Crimes of the Heart Doc Porter 1987 Baby Boom Dr. Jeff Cooper 1989 Steel Magnolias Spud Jones 1990 Bright Angel Jack 1991 The Voyager Walter Faber 1992 Thunderheart Frank Coutelle 1993 The Pelican Brief Professor Thomas Callahan 1994 Safe Passage Patrick Singer 1995 Streets of Laredo Pea Eye Parker 1999 Snow Falling on Cedars Arthur Chambers Purgatory Sheriff Forrest/Wild Bill Hickock 2000 Hamlet The Ghost All the Pretty Horses J.C. Franklin 2001 Black Hawk Down Maj. Gen. William F. Garrison After the Harvest Caleb Gare Kurosawa Narrator Shot in the Heart Frank Gilmore Swordfish Senator James Reisman The Pledge Eric Pollack 2003 Blind Horizon Sheriff Jack Kolb 2004 The Notebook Frank Calhoun 2005 Don't Come Knocking Howard Bandidas Bill Buck Stealth Capt. George Cummings 2006 Walker Payne Syrus The Return Ed Mills Charlotte's Web (Narrator) 2007 Ruffian Frank Whiteley The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford Frank James 2008 The Accidental Husband Wilder Felon Gordon Camrose 2009 Brothers Hank Cahill 2010 Inhale James Harrison Fair Game Sam Plame 2011 Blackthorn Butch Cassidy
As screenwriter Year Title Director 1968 Me and My Brother Robert Frank 1970 Zabriskie Point Michelangelo Antonioni 1984 Paris, Texas Wim Wenders 1985 Fool for Love Robert Altman 1988 Far North Himself 1994 Silent Tongue 2005 Don't Come Knocking Wim Wenders
As director Year Title Notes 1988 Far North also screenplay 1994 Silent Tongue
- ^ "Sam Shepard Biography". filmreference. 2008. http://www.filmreference.com/film/84/Sam-Shepard.html. Retrieved November 25, 2008.
- ^ Petri Liukkonen; Ari Pesonen (2008). "Sam Shepard". Pegasos. http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/sshepard.htm. Retrieved February 16, 2009.
- ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter S". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. http://www.amacad.org/publications/BookofMembers/ChapterS.pdf. Retrieved 22 April 2011.
- ^ "THEATER REVIEW: Home Is Where the Soul Aches" by Ben Brantley, The New York Times, February 19, 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-19.
- ^ a b Patrick Healy, "Getting Faster With Age: Sam Shepard’s New Velocity", The New York Times, February 12, 2010 (Feb. 13, 2010, on p. C1 of NY ed.). Retrieved 2010-02-13.
- ^ Walter Kirn, "Sam Shepard: The Highwayman" Review of Day out of Days: Stories by Sam Shepard 282 pp. (Alfred A. Knopf); The New York Times Book Review, January 14, 2010, (Jan. 17, 2010, p. BR1 NY ed.). Retrieved 2010-02-13.
- ^ http://www.sam-shepard.com/aboutsam.html
- ^ The Associated Press (11 February 2009). "Actor Sam Shepard arrested for DUI in Illinois". The Chicago Tribune. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-ap-il-people-samshepard,0,2166375.story. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- ^ Sam Shepherd Guilty of Very Drunken Driving TMZ.com, February 11, 2009
- ^ Sam Shepard Papers at the Wittliff Collections, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX
- Shewey, Don (1997). Sam Shepard. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Capo Press. pp. 269. ISBN 978-03-0680-770-1. http://books.google.com/books?id=kihaAAAAMAAJ&q=%22jessica+lange%22&dq=%22jessica+lange%22.
- Sam Shepard at the Internet Broadway Database
- Sam Shepard at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Sam Shepard at the Internet Movie Database
- Sam Shepard at The New York Times
- Works by or about Sam Shepard in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Benjamin Ryder Howe, Jeanne McCulloch, Mona Simpson (Spring 1997). "Sam Shepard, The Art of Theater No. 12". The Paris Review. http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/1281/the-art-of-theater-no-12-sam-shepard.
- The Sam Shepard Web Site
- Blackthorn website
- "Brownsville Girl", by Bob Dylan and Sam Shepard
- The Wittliff Collections of Southwestern Writers, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX
- "Sam Shepard" by Vivian M. Patraka and Mark Siegel in the Western Writers Series Digital Editions at Boise State University
- "Sam Shepard opens up"
- Sam Shepard at the Open Directory Project
Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1976–2000)
- Michael Bennett / Nicholas Dante / James Kirkwood, Jr. / Marvin Hamlisch / Edward Kleban (1976)
- Michael Cristofer (1977)
- Donald L. Coburn (1978)
- Sam Shepard (1979)
- Lanford Wilson (1980)
- Beth Henley (1981)
- Charles Fuller (1982)
- Marsha Norman (1983)
- David Mamet (1984)
- James Lapine / Stephen Sondheim (1985)
- August Wilson (1987)
- Alfred Uhry (1988)
- Wendy Wasserstein (1989)
- August Wilson (1990)
- Neil Simon (1991)
- Robert Schenkkan (1992)
- Tony Kushner (1993)
- Edward Albee (1994)
- Horton Foote (1995)
- Jonathan Larson (1996)
- Paula Vogel (1998)
- Margaret Edson (1999)
- Donald Margulies (2000)
- Complete list
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