Sam Shepard, the acclaimed playwright and Oscar-nominated actor, has passed away at the age of 73.
The actor, who was nominated for an Academy Award for playing US pilot Chuck Yeager in 1983's The Right Stuff, died on Thursday at his home in Kentucky surrounded by his children and sisters.
A spokesman for the Shepard family said the cause of death was complications of Motor Neurone Disease, reports the New York Times.
From Steel Magnolias to The Right Stuff: A look back at Oscar nominee Sam Shepard's most memorable roles on film. pic.twitter.com/f4a7JIwXCO— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) July 31, 2017
Shepard, who was born in 1943 in Fort Sheridan, Illinois, made recent screen appearances as Robert Rayburn in the Netflix drama Bloodline. He also played Father Judge in six episodes of gold rush drama Klondike.
His play Buried Child won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1979, and he won huge acclaim for Curse of the Starving Class and A Lie of the Mind. His plays True West and Fool for Love also received Pulitzer nominations.
Shepard had a long association with Ireland's Abbey Theatre. His plays Kicking a Dead Horse and Ages of the Moon received their world premieres at the Abbey in 2007 and 2009 respectively.
So sad to hear about the passing of Sam Shepard. Lots of fond memories of his many times here at the Abbey. May he rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/Db2exYmGK6— Abbey Theatre (@AbbeyTheatre) July 31, 2017
Shepard wrote 44 plays, several books, essays, and memoirs. His other screen credits included Midnight Special, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The Notebook, Black Hawk Down, Days of Heaven and Irish director Jim Sheridan's 2009 drama Brothers.
He is survived by his children, Jesse, from a relationship with O-Lan Jones; and Hannah and Walker, from his relationship with Jessica Lange.
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Actors, directors and writers have been among those paying tribute:
📷Lynn Goldsmith saw very early what we all saw later. Sam Shepard. Too soon gone. pic.twitter.com/i9fcfPUDSO— Jamie Lee Curtis (@jamieleecurtis) July 31, 2017
Jeanne Moreau, Sam Shepard thank you for enlighten us at 24 frames per second. RIP pic.twitter.com/fPi6HTLnzp— Antonio Banderas (@antoniobanderas) July 31, 2017
Literally bumped into Sam Shepard many years ago, both of us on our way to see Pillow Man on Broadway. We had a great chat/walk. #hero RIP— Don Cheadle (@DonCheadle) July 31, 2017
Sam Shepard. Whenever he came on-screen, you knew you were in good hands. A frame from "Days of Heaven." May he rest in love. pic.twitter.com/DQc0fy7EqN— Ava DuVernay (@ava) July 31, 2017
First became a Sam Shepard fan as a playwright when I was in Buried Child @BU_SOT Tremendously talented actor as well. Gone too soon. RIP— Michael Chiklis (@MichaelChiklis) July 31, 2017
A great man of the theater has passed. Thank you, Sam Shepard. RIP.— jason alexander (@IJasonAlexander) July 31, 2017
A hero of theatre. A hero of writing. A hero of acting. A hero of mine. Sam Shepard RIP.— Nikolaj CosterWaldau (@nikolajcw) July 31, 2017
Sam Shepard is one of the greats. These eyes saw so much, and he wrote of what he saw with fearless, timeless honesty. RIP maestro. pic.twitter.com/pIY4FWxXtZ— Beau Willimon (@BeauWillimon) July 31, 2017