Samuel Shepard Rogers III (November 5, 1943 – July 27, 2017), known professionally as Sam Shepard, was an American playwright, actor, author, screenwriter, and director, whose body of work spanned over half a century. He was the author of forty-four plays as well as several books of short stories, essays, and memoirs. Shepard received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for his play Buried Child. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of pilot Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff (1983). Shepard received the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award as a master American dramatist in 2009. New York described him as "the greatest American playwright of his generation."
Shepard's plays are chiefly known for their bleak, poetic, often surrealist elements, black humor and rootless characters living on the outskirts of American society. His style evolved over the years, from the absurdism of his early Off-Off-Broadway work to the realism of Buried Child and Curse of the Starving Class (both 1978).