Today we remember Sam Shepard, who passed away this past Thursday due to complications from Lou Gehrig’s disease. Shepard left behind a rich legacy as a major American playwright, best known for True West, Fool for Love, and Buried Child, for which he won the Pulitzer in 1979. Part of the post-World War II generation, Shepard wrote bare-bones, atmospheric plays with surreal elements and dark humor, exploring American mythologies, dysfunctional families, and outsider heroes. Known in his youth as Steve Rogers (no relation to Captain America, we think!), Shepard was born in 1943 and lived in many different places before his family settled down in California. After a productive sprint in New York City’s Off-Off-Broadway scene, Shepard returned to San Francisco’s avant-garde Magic Theatre (started by a UC Berkeley graduate student), where he succeeded Michael McClure as Playwright in Residence. You can see Shepard onscreen, too: he acted in several films and appeared most recently in Netflix’s Bloodline.
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