Samuel ‘Sam’ Shepard Rogers IV was born on November 5, 1943 in Fort Sheridan, Illinois. Shepard worked as a ranch hand in his teen years after high school, he briefly attended college, majoring in agriculture, but dropped out to join a traveling theater group. His sister is singer-songwriter Sandy Rogers, best known for writing the songs in Fool for Love and her album Green Moon. His other sister, Roxanne Rogers, is an erstwhile actress best known for the low-budget film “Slow Moves”. His son, Jesse Mojo Shepard, is named after the outlaw Jesse James and a Cajun good luck charm, and is the author of Jubilee King. Sam Shepard also plays the drums, and has performed with Bob Dylan and T-Bone Burnett.
Shepard's first few short plays were savagely reviewed in major papers, but he won good notices in the alternative paper The Village Voice. He won three consecutive OBIEs for writing in the mid-1960s, and contributed a few comic sketches for the limply plotted "erotic musical" Oh! Calcutta!.
He made his debut as a screen actor in 1970's little-seen “Brand X” with Sally Kirkland and Abbie Hoffman. His best film performances include the fading mysterious farmer infatuated with Brooke Adams in Terrence Malick's masterpiece “Days of Heaven” (1978), the lover of miracle-worker Ellen Burstyn in “Resurrection” (1980), the reporter who falls for the unjustly declared insane Frances Farmer in Frances, the testosterone-drenched astronaut Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff (1983), the distant commander of a military mission gone wrong in “Black Hawk Down” (2001) with Ewan McGregor, and Ryan Gosling's devoted father in “The Notebook” (2004). He’s also appeared in three Euro-westerns: “Bandidas”, “Don’t Come Knocking” (both 2004) and “Blackthorn” (2010).
Today we celebrate Sam Shepard’s 70th birthday.