Sam Shepard, Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and Oscar nominated actor, passed away this week from complications from ALS at the age of 73. Shepard was never a glamorous actor. He rarely had starring roles; he preferred to work as part of an ensemble. His most memorable role was his only Oscar nomination, playing test pilot Chuck Yeager in 1983’s The Right Stuff. He was an actor who worked more and got progressively better roles as he aged, his next-to-last coming in the acclaimed Netflix series Bloodlines as the patriarch of the troubled Rayburn family. He also was outstanding in the mini-series adaptation of Larry McMurtry’s sequel to Lonesome Dove, Streets of Laredo. “Presence” is a quality you either intrinsically have as an actor or are constantly working to manufacture. For Shepard, it was effortless. RIP.
Sam Shepard’s Best 10
1. Black Hawk Down (2001) Garrison
2. The Right Stuff (1983) Chuck Yeager
3. Streets of Laredo (1995-CBS) Pea Eye
4. Bloodlines (2015-2017-Netflix) Robert Rayburn
5. Thunderheart (1992) Frank Coutelle
6. Fair Game (2010) Sam Plame
7. Mud (2012) Tom
8. Safe House (2012) Harlan Whitford
9. Out of the Furnace (2013) Gerald Baze
10. The Pelican Brief (1993) Thomas Callahan4.
Honorable Mention: Dash and Lilly (1999-HBO) Dashiell Hammett
Oscars, Golden Globes & Emmys
Oscar Wins (0): None
Oscar Nominations (1): The Right Stuff (1984)
Golden Globe Wins (0): None
Golden Globe Nominations (1): Dash and Lilly (2000)
Emmy Wins (0): None
Emmy Nominations (1): Dash and Lilly (1999)
My Favorite Shepard Scene:
“Breaking the Sound Barrier” from The Right Stuff (1983)
Next Film: Sam Shepard’s final role was in June 2017’s Never Here.