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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

US actor playwright Sam Shepard dies at 73

The actor, director and writer passed away of complications from Lou Gehrig's disease

Sam Shepard. Reuters
Sam Shepard. Reuters

Sam Shepard, the preeminent US playwright of his generation celebrated for depicting a darkness to contemporary American life and Oscar-nominated actor, has died. He was 73.

The actor, director and writer passed away Thursday at home in Kentucky of complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, a family spokesman confirmed on Monday.

Shepard, who wrote nearly 50 plays, won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1979 for his play Buried Child and was nominated for an Academy Award in 1984 for best actor in a supporting role for The Right Stuff.

He went on to star in dozens of films with acting credits on the likes of Steel Magnolias with Dolly Parton and Julia Roberts, 2001 war drama Black Hawk Down, and 2013 family saga August: Osage County with Meryl Streep.

His writing career extended to cinema and he wrote the screenplay for Paris, Texas, which won the Palme D'Or at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival.

On television, his most recent work was in the first two seasons of Netflix series Bloodline in 2015 and 2016, which marked his final on-camera appearance.

"Time will sort him out as one of America's most significant voices who told the American tale with a profound insight and with an ear for the expression of our deepest hopes and fears," Gary Grant, theater professor at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, said in paying tribute to his contribution to drama.

The characters he portrayed and the plays he wrote often depicted lost souls struggling to find their place in contemporary society.

"'You don't have to look very far to see that the American male is on a very bad trip,'" Shepard told The New York Times in a 1984 interview. "There's some hidden, deeply rooted thing in the Anglo male American that has to do with inferiority, that has to do with not being a man, and always, continually having to act out some idea of manhood that invariably is violent," he said.

* Agence France-Presse

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