Sam Shepard: 1943-2017

If your film was ever in need of the wise, tough as nails, good ol’ boy, you really couldn’t do much better than Sam Shepard. I know it’s a few days gone by at this point, but with the site problems we couldn’t get to it in a timely manner. Still, we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge this staple of American Cinema of the past half-century. And he will be missed after succumbing to the black veil resulting from complications of ALS.

Possibly best known by the older general audiences as Gen. Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier in The Right Stuff, he then was solidified as a solid star that became a household name. You could argue that he was typecast, but that isn’t always a bad thing in Hollywood. Cigar smoking military mastermind? Check. Seasoned cattle hand? Check. Sexy, small town widower? Check. Renegade from the southern law? Check. Straight up family man patriarch? Check. He played these roles, all of them, with aplomb.

Accomplishments include an Oscar nomination and The Pulitzer in 1979 for his abilities as a playwrite. He was romantically involved with Jessica Lange for a number of years and most recently was one of the stars of the much lauded, Netflix original “Bloodline”.

Shepard made his screen acting debut in Bob Dylan’s movie Renaldo and Clara. His film acting credits also include Steel Magnolias, playing the husband of the beauty shop owner; Terence Malick’s Days of Heaven, for which his movie career took off; Resurrection; Frances; Country; Fool for Love; Crimes of the Heart; Baby Boom; Bright Angel; Defenseless; Hamlet; The Notebook; Black Hawk Down; Don’t Come Knocking; The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford; Brothers; Safe House; Mud; August: Osage County; Cold in July; Midnight Special; Ithaca; In Dubious Battle; and You Were Never Here.

He wrote the screenplays for Michelangelo Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point; Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas, which won the Palme d’Or at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival; and Wenders’ Don’t Come Knocking. He also directed for film, including 1988’s Far North and 1992’s Silent Tongue.

Shepard also played drums in a band he formed called “The Holy Modal Rounders,” who were featured in Easy Rider, and he accompanied Bob Dylan on the Rolling Thunder Revue tour.