Legendary playwright and actor Sam Shepard has died. According to The New York Times, Shepard died on Thursday at his home in Kentucky. He was 73. A spokesman for his family said the cause was complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Shepard is survived by his former partner Jessica Lange, and his three children: Jesse Mojo Shepard, Hannah Jane Shepard, and Samuel Walker Shepard.
Here’s what you need to know about Shepard’s children:
1. His Son Jesse Mojo Shepard is Author of the Book ‘Jubilee King’
Jesse is Shepard’s oldest child, born to him and O-Lan Jones in May 1970. Unlike his siblings, Jesse has followed a career path similar to that of his father: writing. His first book, a collection of short stories titled Jubilee King was released to glowing reviews in 2003. Many critics pointed out that Jesse shared his father’s ability to find poetry in the everyday man. SF Station wrote:
Fiction writer Jesse Shepard joins his father Sam on the bookshelves with his first collection of shorts stories, Jubilee King. When you read Sam Shepard’s work horses, cowboys, the movie business, and humor are constant talismans. When you see his work on stage, the details create the West: barefeet and silver ankle bracelets, cowboy boots sealed with silver gaffer’s tape. Jesse Shepard is not a dramatist (yet?) but he trades on these themes.
On Shepard’s website, it states that Jesse was named after the outlaw Jesse James and a Cajun good luck charm.
2. His Daughter Hannah Jane Shepard is an Administrative Assistant & Activist
Hannah Jane Shepard was born on January 13, 1986, the first child of Shepard and Jessica Lange. According to Shepard’s official website, Hannah graduated from Minnesota’s Stillwater area Sr. High School in 2004 and from Sarah Lawrence College in 2008.
She currently works as an administrative assistant for Hawthorne Valley Association in upstate New York. Shepard’s website states that Hawthorne Valley Association “seeks to promote social and cultural renewal through the integration of education, agriculture, and the arts by engaging in a unique mix of cultural and economic endeavors.” She assists with archiving materials and planning events at Hawthorne Valley Association.
In addition to her work at Hawthorne, Hannah is involved with numerous charities and foundations, including African Solutions to African Problems (ASAP), which supports orphans and children made vulnerable by AIDS in South Africa.
3. His Second Son Samuel Walker Shepard is a Musician & Member of ‘The Down Hill Strugglers’
Samuel Walker Shepard, the youngest son of Shepard and Lange, was born on June 14, 1987. Samuel is a musician who joined a band called The Dust Busters, later to be changed to The Down Hill Strugglers.
The band are based out of Brooklyn, New York, and cover a variety of different sounds and genres, including “old-time songs, ballads, fiddle tunes and jug band blues into every performance, infused with the old-time feeling and freewheelin’ high energy that characterized early string bands such as The Skillet Lickers, Dykes Magic City Trio, The Mississippi Sheiks, and J.E. Mai.”
Samuel plays fiddle, banjo, guitar, and harmonica. In 2013, The Down Hill Strugglers contributed a song to the soundtrack of the acclaimed film Inside Llewyn Davis.
4. Hannah & Samuel Have a Stepsister Named Aleksandra Baryshnikov
Aleksandra Lange Baryshnikov was born in 1981, and is the child of Lange and choreographer Mikhail Baryshnikov. Lange ended her relationship with Baryshikov in 1982, and began dating Shepard not long after. This makes Aleksandra the stepsister of Hannah and Samuel Walker.
Aleksandra, also known as “Shura,” followed in her father’s footsteps and became an American dancer, choreographer, dance educator and actor. When asked if it was a burden or a blessing to have such famous parents, Aleksandra told East Side Monthly:
Both; I worked hard to build what I have in this community on my own merits. Who my parents are is often a point of interest or curiosity, but what I’ve earned… has been my own. I’ve worked hard at it. I was exposed to incredible artists as a young person, incredible travel and arts education by osmosis; I value my parents as artists and the integrity they showed me over time.
5. Shepard Raised His Children With Different Women
Shepard was infamous for his infidelity. He married O-Lan Jones in 1969, giving birth to Jesse the following year, but rumors of a romantic relationship with singer Patti Smith. “Me and his wife still even liked each other,” Smith later wrote in her biography Mappelthorne. “I mean, it wasn’t like committing adultery in the suburbs or something.” The relationship started sometime between 1970 and 1971.
Lange, meanwhile, was dating Mikhail Baryshnikov when she met Shepard. The couple eventually made their relationship official in 1984, after Shepard has finalized his divorce from Jones, and stayed together until their breakup in 2011.