The Pulitzer-winning playwright and Oscar-nominated actor peacefully passed away last Thursday at his home in Kentucky after a long battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's disease or ALS. A spokesperson for the Shepard family confirmed the news on Monday.
"The family requests privacy at this difficult time," the spokesman said in a statement.
See photos of Sam Shepard:
Sam Shepard throughout his life
Sam Shepard throughout his life
Jessica Lange and Sam Shepherd (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Sam Shepard and Jessica Lange (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Sam Shepherd and Jessica Lange (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Sam Shepard during 'The Handmaid's Tale' L.A. Premiere Party at Jade West Chinese Restaurant in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Jessica Lange and Sam Shepard (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 21: Actors Morgan Freeman (L), James Garner and Sam Shepard talk at the after-party for premiere of New Lines' 'The Notebook' at the W Hotel on June 21, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Sam Shepard in a stare in a scene from the film 'Black Hawk Down', 2001. (Photo by Revolution Studios/Getty Images)
Sam Shepard during 'The Notebook' - Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals at Mann Village Theatre in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 16: (U.S. TABS AND HOLLYWOOD REPORTER OUT) Actor/writer Sam Shepard attends the opening night of 'The God of Hell' after party at Ramscale November 16, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images)
CANNES, France: (From L) US actors Gabriel Mann, Fairuza Bank and Sam Shepard, Canadian actress Sarah Polley and German director Wim Wenders pose during a photo call for their film 'Dont' Come Knocking', 19 May 2005 at the 58th edition of the Cannes International Film Festival. The film is in competition for the Festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or. The Cannes film festival, the world's top showcase of cinema, started 11 May with a slew of veteran auteurs lining up for the prestigious Palme d'Or prize, and Hollywood muscling in to promote this year's blockbusters. AFP PHOTO PASCAL GUYOT (Photo credit should read PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images)
Dallas Roberts and Sam Shepard during Sam Shepard Returns To The Stage After 31 Years Absence In 'A Number' at NYTW Theater in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
CANNES, France: US actor Sam Shepard poses as he arrives for the screening of German director Wim Wenders' film 'Don't Come Knocking', 19 May 2005 at the 58th edition of the Cannes International Film Festival. The film is in competition for the Festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or. The Cannes film festival, the world's top showcase of cinema, started 11 May with a slew of veteran auteurs lining up for the prestigious Palme d'Or prize, and Hollywood muscling in to promote this year's blockbusters. AFP PHOTO FRANCOIS GUILLOT (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 20: Actor Sam Shepard poses for a portrait while promoting the film 'Don't Come Knocking' at the 58th International Cannes Film Festival May 20, 2005 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images)
FRANCE - MAY 19: 58th Cannes Film Festival: Stairs of 'Free Zone' In Cannes, France On May 19, 2005-Sam Shepard. (Photo by Pool BENAINOUS/CATARINA/LEGRAND/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Fairuza Balk and Sam Shepard during 2006 Park City - 'Don't Come Knocking' Dinner in Park City, Utah, United States. (Photo by L. Busacca/WireImage)
Sam Shepard (Photo by J. Vespa/WireImage)
Jessica Lange and Sam Shepard during Jessica Lange Honored by the Film Society of Lincoln Center - April 17, 2006 at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Carley Margolis/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - APRIL 26: Director Sam Shepard and Jessica Lange attend the premiere of 'Walker Payne' during the 5th Annual Tribeca Film Festival on April 26, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images for TFF)
Sam Shepard and Jessica Lange during Wynn, Place and Show - Wynn Handman Gala at The Hudson Theatre in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)
US actor Sam Shepard adjusts his sunglasses as he arrives for the screening of the movie 'The Assasination of Jessie James by the coward Robert Ford' during the 64th Venice International Film Festival at Venice Lido 02 September 2007. 'The Assasination of Jessie James by the coward Robert Ford' is presented in competition for the Golden Lion Award. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
(L-R) Actors Sam Shepard, Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck at the photocall of the film 'The Assassination of Jesse James' by Coward Robert Ford, at the 64th Venice Film Festival. Photographers protested as Pitt attended the photocall entirely wearing sponsored sunglasses and refused to take them off. As result, the photocall was stopped and the cast left the area. (Photo by Alessandra Benedetti/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MAY 29: Actor Sam Shepard recites a short story at 'Toil and Trouble . . Stories of Experiments Gone Wrong' at the World Science Festival held at The Moth at Symphony Space on May 29, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images for World Science Festival)
TAORMINA, ITALY - JUNE 20: Jessica Lange and Sam Shepard attend a Taormina Art Award during Taormina Film Fest on June 20, 2009 in Taormina, Italy. (Photo by Maurizio Lagana/WireImage)
SANTIAGO BAEZ/ï¿½2009 RAMEY PHOTO NO SPAIN/ NO ITALY/ NO RUSSIA New York, Sep 02 2009 Actor SAM SHEPARD and wife JESSICA LANGE showed their affection while walking around the West Village, NYC. PGsb68 (Photo by Philip Ramey/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 29: Actor Sam Shepard attends the premiere of 'Blackthorn' at Cinema 2 on September 29, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Stewart/WireImage)
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 09: Actor Sam Shepard speaks onstage during the 'Discovery Channel - Klondike' panel discussion at the Discovery Communications portion of the 2014 Winter Television Critics Association tour at the Langham Hotel on January 9, 2014 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 27: Sam Shepard attends the 'Heartless' opening night party at Signature Theatre Company?s Pershing Square Signature Center on August 27, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 18: Actor Sam Shepard poses for a portrait during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival at the Getty Images Portrait Studio at the Village At The Lift Presented By McDonald's McCafe on January 18, 2014 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 18: Actor Sam Shepard attends The 10th Anniversary LG Music Lodge At Sundance With Elio Motors And Tervis on January 18, 2014 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Clayton Chase/Getty Images for LG Music Lodge)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 18: Kirt Russell, Sam Shepard, Goldie Hawn and Don Johnson attend the 'Cold in July' Dinner and Party hosted by The Snow Lodge x Eveleigh on January 18, 2014 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Snowlodge)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 08: (EXCLUSIVE ACCESS) Playwright Sam Shepard poses at The Opening Night for the MTC production of Sam Shepard's 'Fool For Love' on Broadway at Urbo NYC on October 8, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
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The influential playwright, who was a key writer for the Off Broadway movement, won a Pulitzer Prize for "Buried Child" back in 1979 and was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for 1983's "The Right Stuff." He was nominated for two more Pulitzers for "True West" and "Fool for Love" and wrote over 40 plays throughout his five-decade career.
In addition to his lauded work in "The Right Stuff," Shepard was known for film roles in such movies as "Black Hawk Down," "Steel Magnolias" and "Swordfish" and most recently appeared in Netflix's critically-acclaimed series, "Bloodline," which had just recently wrapped its three-season run earlier this year.
Shepard is survived by three children. Jesse Mojo, 47, Hannah Jane, 31, and Samuel Walker, 30. He was married to O-Lan Jones and had a longtime relationship with actress Jessica Lange from 1982 until 2009.
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