Sam Shepard

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For other people with similar names, see Sam Sheppard or Sam Shepard (disambiguation).
Sam Shepard
Sam Shepard Stealth crop.jpg
Shepard on the set of the film Stealth (2005).
Born Samuel Shepard Rogers III[1]
(1943-11-05) November 5, 1943 (age 70)
Fort Sheridan, Illinois, U.S.
Occupation Actor, author, playwright
Years active 1960s–present
Spouse(s) O-Lan Jones
(1969–1984)
Partner(s) Jessica Lange
(1982–2010)

Sam Shepard (born Samuel Shepard Rogers III; 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). Shepard received the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award as a master American dramatist in 2009.

Early years[edit]

Born Samuel Shepard Rogers III 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; Shepard has characterized him as "a drinking man, a dedicated alcoholic".[2] His mother, Jane Elaine (née Schook), was a teacher and a native of Chicago, Illinois.[3][4] After graduating from Duarte High School in 1961, he briefly studied agriculture at Mt. San Antonio College, where he became enamored with the oeuvre of Samuel Beckett, jazz, and abstract expressionism. Shepard soon dropped out to join a touring repertory group, the Bishop’s Company.

Career[edit]

After securing a position as a busboy at The Village Gate upon arriving in New York City, Shepard became involved in the Off-Off-Broadway theater scene in 1962 through Ralph Cook, the club's head waiter. Although his plays would go on to be staged at several Off-Off-Broadway venues, he was most closely connected with Cook's Theatre Genesis, housed at St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery in Manhattan's East Village. Most of his initial writing was for the stage;[5] after winning six Obie Awards between 1966-1968, Shepard emerged as a viable screenwriter with Robert Frank's Me and My Brother (1968) and Michelangelo Antonioni's Zabriskie Point (1970). Several of Shepard's early plays (including Red Cross [1966] and La Turista [1967]) were directed by Jacques Levy. A habitué of the Chelsea Hotel scene of the era, he contributed to Kenneth Tynan's ribald Oh! Calcutta! (1969) and drummed sporadically from 1967 through 1971 with psychedelic folk band The Holy Modal Rounders, appearing on Indian War Whoop (1967) and The Moray Eels Eat The Holy Modal Rounders (1968).

Shepard's early science fiction play The Unseen Hand (1969) would influence Richard O'Brien's stage musical The Rocky Horror Show. Cowboy Mouth—a collaboration with then-lover, Patti Smith—was staged for one night at The American Place Theater in April 1971, providing early exposure for the future punk rock singer. Seeking to distance himself from Smith and her substance abuse, Shepard relocated with his wife and son to London in the early 1970s. Returning to America in 1975, he moved to the 20-acre Flying Y Ranch in Mill Valley, California where he raised a young colt named Drum and used to ride double with his young son on an appaloosa named Cody. He wrote plays out of his house and He served for a semester as Regents' Professor of Drama at the University of California, Davis.

Shepard accompanied Bob Dylan on the Rolling Thunder Revue of 1975 as the ostensible screenwriter of the surrealist Renaldo and Clara (1978) that emerged from the tour; because much of the film was improvised, Shepard's services were seldom utilized. His diary of the tour (Rolling Thunder Logbook) was published by Penguin Books in 1978. A decade later, Dylan and Shepard co-wrote the 11-minute "Brownsville Girl", included on Dylan's Knocked Out Loaded (1986) album and later compilations.

In 1975, he was named playwright-in-residence at the Magic Theatre, where many of his notable works (including his Family Trilogy: Buried Child [1978], Curse of the Starving Class [1978], and True West [1980]) received their premier productions.[6] Some critics expand this grouping to a quintet which includes Fool for Love (1983) and A Lie of the Mind (1985).[7]

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.

Shepard was elected to The American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1986. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1986.[8]

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 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.

In 2007, Shepard contributed banjo to Patti Smith's cover of Nirvana's song "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on her album Twelve.

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[9] was staged at the same time as his 2010 play, Ages of the Moon, also opened there. Reflecting on the two plays, Shepard 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."[10] 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.[11] 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."[10]

Shepard starred in the 2011 film Blackthorn.

Directing[edit]

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.

Personal life[edit]

When Shepard first arrived in New York, he roomed with Charlie Mingus Jr., a friend from his high school days and the son of famous jazz musician Charles Mingus. Then he lived with actress Joyce Aaron. From 1969 to 1984 he was married to actress O-Lan Jones, with whom he has one son, Jesse Mojo Shepard (born 1970). In 1970-71, he was involved in an extramarital affair with Patti Smith, who remained unaware of Shepard's identity as a multiple Obie Award-winning playwright until it was finally divulged to her by Jackie Curtis. According to Smith, "Me and his wife still even liked each other. I mean, it wasn't like committing adultery in the suburbs or something."

Shepard met Academy-Award-winning actress Jessica Lange on the set of the film Frances, in which they were both acting. He moved in with her in 1983, and they were together for nearly thirty years. They separated in 2010.[12] They have two children, Hannah Jane (born 1985) and Samuel Walker Shepard (born 1987).[13] In 2003, Jesse Shepard wrote a book of short stories that was published in San Francisco, and his father appeared together with him at a reading to introduce the book.[14][15]

Although he played the legendary test pilot Chuck Yeager, in The Right Stuff, and 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, Shepard has had a long-standing aversion to flying.[16][17] Shepard described his flying phobia as a source for a character in his 1966 play, Icarus's Mother.[18] He went through an airliner crash in the film Voyager (1991), and according to one account,[19] he vowed never to fly again after a very rocky trip on an airliner coming back from Mexico in the 1960s.

In the early morning hours of January 3, 2009, Shepard was arrested and charged with speeding and drunken driving in Normal, Illinois.[20] 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.[21]

His 50-year friendship with Johnny Dark was the subject of the 2013 documentary, "Shepard & Dark" by Treva Wurmfeld.[22]

Awards and honors[edit]

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 Theater 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
2001 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

Archives[edit]

The Sam Shepard papers at the Wittliff collections of Southwestern Writers, Texas State University, were donated by the author and comprise some 26 boxes of material.[23] The University of Texas Libraries purchased a separate collection of his papers in 2006.[24]

Bibliography[edit]

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[edit]

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

Filmography[edit]

Actor[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1963 Apples in the Tree Unknown
1965 Rusakai Unknown
1970 Brand X Unknown
1978 Renaldo and Clara Rodeo
1978 Days of Heaven The Farmer
1980 Resurrection Cal Carpenter
1981 Raggedy Man Bailey
1982 Frances Harry York
1983 The Right Stuff Chuck Yeager Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1984 Paris, Texas unconfirmed
1984 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 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
1997 The Only Thrill Reece McHenry
1999 Snow Falling on Cedars Arthur Chambers
1999 Purgatory Sheriff Forrest Television movie
1999 Dash and Lilly Dashiell Hammlett Television movie
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
2000 Hamlet The Ghost
2000 All the Pretty Horses J.C. Franklin
2001 Black Hawk Down William F. Garrison Nominated—Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
2001 After the Harvest Caleb Gare
2001 Kurosawa Narrator
2001 Shot in the Heart Frank Gilmore Television movie
2001 Swordfish Senator James Reisman
2001 The Pledge Eric Pollack
2003 Blind Horizon Sheriff Jack Kolb
2004 The Notebook Frank Calhoun
2005 Don't Come Knocking Howard
2005 Bandidas Bill Buck
2005 Stealth Capt. George Cummings
2006 Walker Payne Syrus
2006 The Return Ed Mills
2006 Charlotte's Web Narrator
2007 Ruffian Frank Whiteley Television movie
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
2007 The Assassination of Jesse James Frank James
2008 The Accidental Husband Wilder
2008 Felon Gordon Camrose
2009 Brothers Hank Cahill
2010 Inhale James Harrison
2010 Fair Game Sam Plame
2011 Blackthorn Butch Cassidy
2012 Darling Companion Sheriff Morris
2012 Mud Tom Blankenship
2012 Safe House Harlan Whitford
2012 Killing Them Softly Dillon
2013 August: Osage County Beverly Weston Hollywood Film Festival Award for Best Cast
2013 Savannah Mr. Stubbs
2013 Cold in July Ben Russell
2013 Out of the Furnace Gerald "Red" Baze

Screenwriter[edit]

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 Himself
2005 Don't Come Knocking Wim Wenders

Director[edit]

As director
Year Title Notes
1988 Far North also screenplay
1994 Silent Tongue

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ O'Mahony, John (October 11, 2003). "The write stuff". The Guardian (London). 
  3. ^ "Sam Shepard Biography". filmreference. 2008. Retrieved November 25, 2008. 
  4. ^ Petri Liukkonen; Ari Pesonen (2008). "Sam Shepard". Pegasos. Retrieved February 16, 2009. 
  5. ^ Gary Botting, The Theatre of Protest in America, Edmonton: Harden House, 1972.
  6. ^ Simard, Rodney. “American Gothic: Sam Shepard's Family Trilogy.” Theatre Annual 41 (1986): 21–36.
  7. ^ Roudané, Matthew (2002). The Cambridge Companion to Sam Shepard. Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521777667
  8. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter S". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved April 22, 2011. 
  9. ^ "THEATER REVIEW: Home Is Where the Soul Aches" by Ben Brantley, The New York Times, February 19, 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-19.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Johnson, Zach. (2011-12-19) Rep: Jessica Lange and Sam Shepard Have Separated. UsMagazine.com. Retrieved on 2012-05-22.
  13. ^ About Sam – The Sam Shepard Web Site. Sam-shepard.com (1943-11-05). Retrieved on 2012-05-22.
  14. ^ Sullivan, James (April 26, 2003). "THE SCENE: Sam Shepard joins Jesse Shepard for a reading at City Lights / Father and son share a moment, but without the literary drama". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  15. ^ "Sam Shepard: A Preliminary Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center". Separated Material: VHSs of This So-Called Disaster, November 2002, and Jesse and Sam Shepard at City Lights, April 24, 2003. Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  16. ^ Kirn, Walter (May 13, 1996). "Tales of Two Hipsters". New York Magazine. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  17. ^ Lang, Peter (2007). Dis/figuring Sam Shepard. Peter Lang. p. 42. ISBN 9789052013527. 
  18. ^ Bottoms, Stephen J. (1998). The Theatre of Sam Shepard: States of Crisis. Cambridge University Press. p. 41. ISBN 9780521587914. 
  19. ^ Callens, Mark (1998). Sam Shepard V8, Part 4. Taylor & Francis. p. 79. ISBN 9780203989890. 
  20. ^ "Actor Sam Shepard arrested for DUI in Illinois". The Chicago Tribune. Associated Press. February 11, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
  21. ^ Sam Shepherd Guilty of Very Drunken Driving TMZ.com, February 11, 2009
  22. ^ DeMara, Bruce (March 7, 2013). "Shepard & Dark a testament to friendship: review". Toronto Star. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  23. ^ "Sam Shepard Papers, 1972 - 1999". Wittliff Collections, Texas State University-San Marcos. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  24. ^ "Sam Shepard: A Preliminary Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center". Retrieved 24 April 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Espartaco Carlos Eduardo Sanguinetti: The Experience of Limits, p. 96 (Ediciones de Arte Gaglianone, first published 1989) ISBN 950-9004-98-7
  • Radavich, David. "Back to the (Plutonian) Midwest: Sam Shepard's The God of Hell." New England Theatre Journal 18 (2007): 95-108.
  • Radavich, David. "Rabe, Mamet, Shepard, and Wilson: Mid-American Male Dramatists of the 1970s and '80s." The Midwest Quarterly XLVIII: 3 (Spring 2007): 342-58.
  • Shewey, Don (1997). "Sam Shepard". Da Capo Press (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Capo Press). p. 269. ISBN 978-0-306-80770-1. 

External links[edit]