Sam Shepard, whose hallucinatory plays redefined the landscape of the American West and its inhabitants, died on Thursday at his home in Kentucky. He was 73.
A spokesman for his family announced the death on Monday, saying the cause was complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Possessed of a stoically handsome face and a rangy frame, Mr. Shepard became a familiar presence as an actor in films that included “Days of Heaven” (1978), “The Right Stuff” (1983) and “Baby Boom” (1987). He bore a passing resemblance to that laconic idol of Hollywood’s golden era, Gary Cooper, and in an earlier age, Mr. Shepard could have made a career as a leading man of Westerns.
A reluctant movie star who was always suspicious of celebrity’s luster, he was more at home as one of the theater’s most original and prolific portraitists of what was once the American frontier.