Sam Shepard Dies

Chuck Yeager and Sam Shepard

By Steve Green: Sam Shepard (1943-2017): American actor, director and playwright, died on July 27, aged 73. Appeared in the horror movie The Return (2006), was among the contributors to the 1972 film of Oh! Calcutta! and both wrote and directed the supernatural western Silent Tongue (1993), but is probably best known to sf fans for playing real-life test pilot Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff (1983).

5 thoughts on “Sam Shepard Dies

  1. He also appeared (all too briefly) in Jeff Nichols very good film Midnight Special from 2016.

    And although it barely (if at all) has any genre elements, he was terrific in Thunderheart (1992), with Val Kilmer and Graham Greene.

  2. Yes, Phil, but I only bothered Mike with the genre-relevant entries in what was an extensive and highly lauded career.

    Shepard was the son of a WW2 pilot and spent his childhood on a variety of army bases, so The Right Stuff must have brought back a lot of memories.

  3. And before anyone queries my mention of Oh! Calcutta!… whilst I haven’t seen the film, I recall a Frankenstein-inspired sketch (or something along those lines) in the stage version I saw about 35 years ago.

  4. And Shepard also played drums for Greenwich Village folk band The Holy Modal Rounders! (whose Peter Stampfl was involved with New York SF fandom – via the Iconoclasts, I think? – and later married Don Wolheim’s daughter… See, everything is connected!). Sam Shepard was a terrific actor, director and playwright, and a boon to the theatre.

  5. Before he began to write plays in a more realistic mode, like True West, many of Shepard’s earlier plays had strong fantastical elements. His outright SF plays include The Tooth of Crime, The Unseen Hand, Operation Sidewinder, and Geography of a Horse Dreamer. All of these plays are well worth searching out. And don’t forget the play he wrote with Patti Smith, Cowboy Mouth. Not SF, but worth seeking out just for the short play’s ending.

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