Perhaps one of the most influential and celebrated playwrights of the late 20th century, Sam Shepard developed an extensive body of work that was preoccupied with the myth of the vanishing West and dysfunctional families on the verge of tragedy. More existentialist and surrealist than romantic and conventional, Shepard often wrote plays that incorporated symbolism and non-linear storytelling while being populated with drifters, fading rock stars and others living on the edge. He also employed eccentric, inventive language - and sometimes music - to explore the parallel fantasy of disappearing from the known world. After getting his start with one-acts like "Cowboy" and "Icarus' Mother," Shepard won numerous awards with full length plays like "Curse of the Starving Class" (1978) and "Buried Child" (1978), the latter of which earned him a Pulitzer Prize in Drama. His playwriting career reached its zenith with the popular "True West" (1980), after which Shepard began focusing more on acting with roles in "The Right Stuff" (1983) and directing films like "Far North" (1988). By time he was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 1994, Shepard was far and away one of the greatest playwrights of his generation.