Shepard, Sam

Shepard, Sam,

1943–2017, one of the major American playwrights and actors of his era, b. Fort Sheridan, Ill., as Samuel Shepard Rogers 3d. A product of the 1960s counterculture and an important figure in that era's Off-Broadway movement, Shepard combined wild humor, grotesque satire, myth, and a sparse, haunting language evocative of Western movies to create a subversive vision of America. His settings are often a kind of nowhere land on the American Plains, his characters are typically loners and drifters caught between a mythical past and the mechanized present, and his works often portray the darker aspects of deeply troubled families. His many plays include Curse of the Starving Class (1977), Buried Child (1978; Pulitzer Prize), True West (1980), A Lie of the Mind (1985), States of Shock (1991), Simpatico (1994), The Late Henry Moss (2000), The God of Hell (2004), and Particle of Dread (2014), his last. Shepard also wrote the screenplays for The Right Stuff (1983), in which he played the part of Chuck YeagerYeager, Chuck
(Charles Elwood Yeager) , 1923–2020, American aviator, b. Myra, W.Va. An ace fighter pilot during World War II, he was a military test pilot during the early postwar years.
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, and Paris, Texas (1984); wrote and directed Far North (1989) and Silent Tongue (1994); and acted in more than 50 films. His prose works include the stories, meditations, reminiscences, and other pieces collected in Motel Chronicles (1982), Cruising Paradise (1996), Great Dream of Heaven (2002), and Day Out of Days (2010), as well as the autobiographically based novellas The One Inside (2017) and Spy of the First Person (2017); the last concerns an old man dying of a degenerative disease, his diminishing life interspersed with memories of the past.


See biographies by D. Shewey (1997) and J. J. Winters (2017).

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Shepard, Sam (b. Samuel Shepard Rogers VII)

(1943–  ) playwright, actor; born in Fort Sheridan, Ill. He was raised in California and studied agricultural science at Mount Antonio Junior College there (1960–61). He moved to New York City (1962), worked as an actor and a rock musician. His career as a playwright began in 1964 with Theatre Genesis's Obie Award-winning productions of Cowboy and The Rock Garden. Although he won critical acclaim and a small following, his offbeat and off-Broadway plays did not bring him much financial success, and he moved to England (1971–75) where he wrote his rock-drama, The Tooth of Crime (1972). He returned to see a steady stream of his stage plays produced—Buried Child (1978) won the Pulitzer—while he also wrote film scripts and appeared in several movies, including The Right Stuff (1983). Both the critics and public have found it difficult to categorize his iconoclastic approach to drama, agreeing only that it seems disturbingly to reflect the contemporary American scene, and he remains somewhat elusive and ambiguous as a force in the modern theater.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
Shepard, Sam. "True West." Sam Shepard: Seven Plays.
Davis, Jefrey Elsass, Ray Garcia, Casey Miles Good, Buck Mason, Tony Spinosa, Danny Schmittler, Brian Shepard, Sam Zeller.
True West Drama in two acts by Shepard, Sam, produced in 1980 and published in 1981.