Oscar-Nominated Actor Sam Shepard Dies After Private Battle with ALS

Shepard was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of pilot Chuck Yeager in 1983's The Right Stuff

Sam Shepard, known for his acting work in films such as Black Hawk Down and The Right Stuff, has died. He was 73.

Shepard’s theater representative confirms to PEOPLE that Shepard passed away at his home in Kentucky on Thursday, July 27, from complications from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The actor’s battle with ALS was not publicly known. He was with his family at the time of his death.

“The family requests privacy at this difficult time,” said Chris Boneau, the family’s spokesman.

The representative said funeral arrangements would remain private. Plans for a public memorial have not yet been determined.

"Cold In July" Portraits - 2014 Sundance Film Festival
Larry Busacca/Getty

Shepard made his acting debut in Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven in 1978 and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of pilot Chuck Yeager in 1983’s The Right Stuff.

Despite his success, he was known for shying away from the spotlight of Hollywood.

“I had all kinds of wild offers at that time to be a movie star and I panicked,” he later told The Guardian. “I was turning down things like Warren Beatty’s Reds, that part of Eugene O’Neill [played by Jack Nicholson]. My agent was going crazy. I hadn’t realized what the experience of it would be like – to be on the verge of being a movie star. Because it’s like you are the hottest whore in town. Everybody wants you.”

More recently, he is known for playing Noah (Ryan Gosling)’s father in The Notebook. He was also in the recent adaptation of August: Osage County alongside Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. In 2015, he appeared in Netflix’s dark family drama Bloodline.

THE RIGHT STUFF, Sam Shepard, 1983, ©Warner Bros./Courtesy: Everett Collection.
Sam Shepard And Jessica Lange In 'Country'

He wrote several films as well, including Paris, Texas, Fool for Love and Simpatico.

Shepard was also an author, director and playwright. He has written over 40 plays and received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for his play Buried Child.

Shepard is survived by his two sisters, Sandy and Roxanne Rogers, and his three children: Jesse Mojo, 47, from his marriage to O-Lan Jones, as well as Hannah Jane, 31, and Samuel Walker, 30, from his longtime relationship with Jessica Lange.

Jamie McCarthy/WireImage

Lange spoke about her partner from 1982 to 2009 in the August/September issue of AARP The Magazine.

“I wouldn’t call Sammy easygoing and funny, but everybody has their dark side, and he always does it with a sense of humor.”

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