The life story of Sam Shepard

Apart from his extraordinary career in film and theater, Sam Shepard will be remembered as one of the last true American icons in the ranks of Carrie Grant and Marlon Brand, and for the dark charm that made women all over the world sigh.

This is the life story of Sam Shepard!

From 1969 to 1984, Shepard was married to actress Olan Jones, with whom he has a son, Jesse Modjo (47). However, from 1970 to 1971, he had an extramarital affair with singer Patti Smith.

– His wife and I still had sympathy for each other. No one behaved petty bourgeois – said Patti Smith later.

Shortly after Jones’ divorce, he began a relationship with actress Jessica Lang, whom he met during the filming of “Francis”. They lived together for almost 30 years, until 2009.

The two have starred in several other films and have two children – Hannah Jane and Samuel Walker.

Shepard was arrested on two occasions, in 2009 and 2015, for speeding in an alcoholic state, and Jessica Lang, a few weeks before Sam’s death, gave an interview to AARP magazine, which was published exactly on the day when the public learned that he had died.

– I would not call Semi a fun or easy man, but everyone has their dark side, and he always approached her with a dose of humor – said Langova.

Sam Shepard was nominated for an Oscar for the first and only time for a supporting role in the film “Journey into Space” (1983) by Philip Coffman, in which he played the pilot Chuck Jaeger, although he had a great fear of flying. In 1979, he won the Pulitzer Prize for the drama “Buried Child”, and was nominated for “The Real West” (1980) and the drama “People of Love”. PEN / The Lore Pels International Foundation named him Master of American Dramaturgy in 2009. He wrote a total of 44 plays, several books and short stories, memoirs and essays.

The “New York Times” once called him “the greatest American writer of his generation”. He was a member of the American Film Academy and the Academy of Arts and Literature.

Earlier years

He was born on November 5, 1943, in Fort Sheridan, Illinois, as Samuel Shepard Rogers II. His mother was a teacher, and his father was an officer in the US Army and a pilot during World War II. Because of this, the family often moved. In a 2003 interview with the Guardian, the actor stated that they lived in South Dakota, Utah, Guam, Italy, the Philippines, and that they finally settled in the city of Duarte, California.

By the way, he was very withdrawn and restrained outside the cameras, and on one occasion he discovered that his father was a difficult, quarrelsome alcoholic.

– He had a very short fuse. He had a hard life, he had to support his brother and mother from an early age, since his father’s farm collapsed. You could feel that terrible suffering in him. He was disappointed with his life and as if he was looking for someone else to replace him with this one. He was full of terrifying anger – said Shepard.

After high school, Sam briefly tried to study agriculture and dreamed of becoming a veterinarian with “his office and a flashy blonde as his wife”, however, he soon became interested in acting.

– It happened that I found myself in a literature class, I don’t know exactly how, with many colleagues I didn’t know much about. For lack of a better word, they were all losers – he told the Guardian.

– They lived in a big old house, one was a painter, they blew a lot and Beckett’s books, Polok’s reproductions, all the names I hadn’t heard of, were scattered around. It was my first encounter with jazz, Beckett, abstract expressionism. And I decided to leave college – Shepard said.

He soon joined a traveling theater troupe that did “short pieces” and arrived in New York in 1963. He decided to live there. He supported himself as an assistant waiter while starting his career as a writer and actor on Off-Broadway.


– When I arrived in New York, it was as if I had fallen from the sky alone. I was 19 years old and it was pure luck that the whole Off-Broadway movement started just then – he admitted. As one of the most significant and influential early writers of the Of-Broadway movement, he wrote with great conviction about the dark sides of family life. He wrote for the legendary “Open Theater” and “La MaMu” Ellen Stewart, and attracted more public attention in 1971 with the play “Cowboy Mouth” about two musicians, which he wrote with Patti Smith and with whom he played in it.

Among the numerous pieces, “Curse of the Starving Class”, “The Rock Garden”, “Chicago”, “The Unseen Hand”, “Cowboys”, “4-H Club”, “Back Bog Beast Bait”, “Mad” stand out. Dog Blues “,” Simpatico “,” Baby Boom “,” The God of Hell “,” Ages of the Moon “,” Kicking a Dead Horse “and others.

His play, “Crazy from Love”, was adapted into Robert Altman’s 1986 film of the same name, in which Shepard starred opposite Kim Basinger.

He also worked in Hollywood as the screenwriter of the film “Death Valley” (1970) by Michelangelo Antonioni and then moved to San Francisco, where in 1975, he became a permanent writer at the Magic Theater.

He began his acting career in 1978 in Terence Malik’s The Divine Days, alongside Richard Gere and Brooke Adams. This was followed by roles in “Steel Magnolias”, “The Traveler”, “The Pelican Dossier”, “Safe Passage”, “The Fall of the Black Hawk”, “The Cowardly Murder of Jesse James …”, “August in Osage County”, “Cold July” …

He also collaborated with Bob Dylan on the 11-minute song “Brownsville Girl” which is on the album “Knocked Out Loaded” (1986).

He once told the “Guardian” magazine about his love affair with Jessica Lang:

“I mean, it was a long and peaceful period, but then … We’re definitely an amazing couple, but you know, not without fireworks … At the moment, she’s the only woman I could live with. Who could live with me! What other woman would tolerate me? ”Shepard said. He appreciated Jessica incredibly and considered her the most sincere person he had ever met.

“I don’t know if she ever lied. And I couldn’t say that for myself, or anyone else. Men lie all the time, while she was completely honest “, he said about his then ex-partner, attributing that trait to the Midwest and the environment in which she grew up.

“Another great thing, besides her extraordinary natural beauty, is her humility,” he said at the time.

Illness did not prevent him from acting almost to the very end. His last roles were in the series “Bloodline” (2015) and the film “Never Here”. Sam Shepard passed away on July 27, 2017, at the age of 74, from Lou Gehrig’s disease at his home in Kentucky, surrounded by children and sisters. The actor spoke openly with friends about the disease and “faced it directly and bravely, without a gram of self-pity,” said his media representative, Chris Bono.


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