RIP Sam Shepard- Actor, Director, & Playwright Dead At 73

The of screen and stage lost one of its strongest and most prolific creative voices today as Sam Shepard has passed away. He was 73 years old and had been suffering from ALS.

Summing up Shepard's career isn't easy as he had his hands in literally everything.  He began his acting career with a bang in Terrence Malick's 1978 film, Days of Heaven. He would go on to have other prominent acting roles, including his Oscar-nominated performance as Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff. He would go on to appear in films as diverse as Baby Boom, Steel Magnolias, and The Notebook. He became a recent favorite of director Jeff Nichols, appearing in Mud and Midnight Special.

Shepard was perhaps most active as a playwright, penning 44 plays over the course of his career, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1979 for Buried Child. In 2009 he was honored with the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award, and was considered by many to be one of the great American playwrights of this generation. He also directed two feature films, 1988's Far North, and Silent Tongue in 1993.

For me, Shepard falls into that group of quiet, tough guy actors that includes Scott Glenn and Sam Elliot. I'll never forget most of the films I saw Shepard in, but I particularly loved him in Jim Mickle's Cold in July, which played off his rugged personality perfectly.

As an actor, director, author, playwright, and teacher, Shepard will leave a void that will be very tough to fill.