Patti Smith paid tribute to Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Sam Shepard who passed away last Thursday July 27 at the age of 73 at his home in Kentucky after a battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
In a eulogy in the New Yorker headlined My Buddy, Smith recalled her friendship with Shepard and how she was working with him on his final manuscript. “I said goodbye to my buddy, calling to him, in the dead of night,” she wrote about finding out about his death.
Smith and Shephard had been lovers in New York after moving there from California in the early ’60s and becoming involved in the theatre scene. He won 6 Obie Awards for his plays between 1966 and 1968, contributed to Kenneth Tynan’s infamous play Oh! Calcutta! and even drummed with the eccentric group The Holy Modal Rounders.
Shepard joined Bob Dylan on the 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue tour, and co-wrote the song ‘Brownsville Girl’ with him.
Shepard won his Pulitzer Prize in 1979 for the play Buried Child and won numerous other awards as well as being nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of pilot Chuck Yeager in the film The Right Stuff. Shepherd’s last acting role was for the TV series Bloodline.
Actor Matthew McConaughey, who starred alongside in the 2012 movie, Mud.was visibly shaken when told about Shephard’s death.
“Look, I’m not going to trivialise that situation, I just heard about it for the first time,” McConaughey said. “But I always told [director]Jeff Nichols this, look in Mud, the whole trailer for Mud could be Sam Shepard sitting in that green chair telling the boy about who Mud is. It would be about a two-and-a-half minute trailer, but it would have been really badass.”
Many other actors were quick to pay tribute to Shephard.
“Literally bumped into Sam Shepard many years ago, both of us on our way to see Pillow Man on Broadway. We had a great chat/walk. #hero RIP,’ tweeted Don Cheadle wrote.
“A great man of the theater has passed. Thank you, Sam Shepard. RIP,” Jason Alexander wrote.
“Jeanne Moreau, Sam Shepard thank you for enlighten us at 24 frames per second. RIP,” Antonio Banderas said.
“He wrote like an actor. He wrote monologues,” Richard Gere told the Hollywood Reporter. “He wrote the way people think and talk, on the same track. He wanted to give these characters space to express themselves. He wasn’t afraid of letting people explain themselves. For an actor you’ve got a lot to play with there. There was an emotional base to start from.”