Acting heavyweight Sam Shepard dies at 73

The actor and award-winning playwright was also a former Minnesota resident.

Sam Shepard, the Pulitzer-winning playwright, Oscar-nominated actor and celebrated author, has died at the age of 73.

The New York Times reports the Illinois native died on Thursday at his home in Kentucky surrounded by family. He had been battling ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

He is regarded as one of the most influential early playwrights in the "Off Broadway movement," the newspaper notes, winning a Pulitzer Prize for drama for his 1979 play Buried Child.

He was also an accomplished actor, gaining an Oscar nomination for his role in the 1983 movie The Right Stuff, and also had prominent roles in Black Hawk Down and recent Netflix original Bloodline.

He has Minnesota ties

Shepard lived in Minnesota for nine years between 1995 and 2004 with his long-term partner, Cloquet native and acting legend Jessica Lange.

Lange wanted to move back to Minnesota in the mid '90s to be close to her ailing mother, who lived next door until her death in 1997, according to Sam-Shepard.com.

They left in 2004 to move to New York, with the Star Tribune reporting their Victorian, former bed-and-breakfast home eventually sold four years later for $1.825 million.

E-Online confirmed in 2011 that Shepard and Lange – who never married – had split up as much as two years earlier, reporting they had been "living independent lives" since 2009.

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