Hi, I Used To Be Sam Shepard

The effects of alcohol special or otherwise, knows no bounds.  I was coming out of my building when a man was exiting the cafe paralleling my front door slamming into me full force.  He hit my nose so hard I saw stars, including his.

He was Sam Shepard, the esteemed playwright and actor.

At first, I didn’t realize it was him since he certainly doesn’t look the way I remember.  He had to be one of the handsomest men on the planet way back when.  And I realize he’s older now, but believe me, this isn’t why he looks as if a tank rolled over his face.

He drinks.  My dad had the same one, a man also considered beautiful forfeiting what nature gave him for the contents in a bottle.

“Excuse me,” he said, pretty genuinely. “I didn’t see you there.”

“It’s okay,” I said, rubbing feeling back into my nose.  Then he was gone.

But I thought of him.  I thought of the amazing photographs Bruce Weber took of him and Jessica Lange in 1990 for The Sam Book published by Little Bear Press during the bloom of their famed romance.

I never saw such a beautiful couple.  ac7ec1d587ef35667e17861c7d8a6b7f128 Again, it was 25 years ago, but still say spirits robbed Sam of his which includes a recent DWI.   images

It’s so uncanny when you think how alcohol, in theory, makes a person feel good, hence why they drink only to steal and pillage every cell in its path.  Just take a peek at Errol Flynn towards the end of his life.  He was another breathtakingly beautiful man whiskey robbed of his facial grace.  Like gazing at a Roman ruin you can only imagine in its prime.

It’s not uncommon for me to see famous people living where I do.  The Upper East Side of New York is considered the watering hole for the rich and renowned.

But it’s not too common to literally bump into someone you’ve admired as a writer for so long, ever since you too wanted to be one, looking as if he went one too many rounds with life.

It made me take pause.    Sam Shepard, Q&A

Sam Shepard (1943-2017)

I wrote this two years ago.  Sam Shepard died this past Thursday, July 27th, 2017, at the age of 73.

Such a loss.

Godspeed Sam.


About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Amazon.com. Thanks.
This entry was posted in Beauty, Cinema, media, men, New York City, writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

50 Responses to Hi, I Used To Be Sam Shepard

  1. Very sad, as I like Sam Shepard.


  2. skinnyuz2b says:

    I always thought he was handsome, too. The ravages of alcohol are seen on so many levels, including one’s face and health.


  3. Ally Bean says:

    Brilliance takes its toll no matter who you are. And if alcohol is the way that you manage your brilliance then ’tis possible you age more quickly. Although I think that he still looks quite handsome in the last photo– just wizened and older. But then so am I, so who’s to judge?


  4. That is sad. I always feel bad for the famous who find themselves in this position, and worse when they start getting rolls basically playing themselves … the lonely alcoholic.


  5. This is a beautifully written elegy for the damage caused by alcoholism. I’ve witnessed it up close and you words ring true. Let’s hope Sam Shepard is able to turn things around.


  6. Elle Knowles says:

    The many vices so many take advantage of (alcohol, smoking, drugs, etc.) also rob you of what could have been. So sad Susannah. ~Elle


    • I think so, but then again I have history with alcoholism so it’s personal for me. He has two kids with Jessica Lange and another one from an earlier marriage. I think they’re still together.


  7. Drinking, in my opinion,is a horrible way to waste your life. Not that I haven’t, on occasion, taken a nip or two. Medication now makes that impossible and I don’t miss the cost nor the effects at all. I once had a person tell me they drank so they would not remember all the things they do (high school). That simple statement kept me from high school alcohol. I had OCD, back then it would have screamed into my system and I would have been an alcoholic before I knew what was going on. I have only been drunk once and that was enough. Too much champagne in celebration of a computer upgrade. I passed out, woke up to hear the beautiful voice of “The Little Mermaid” and fell in love with her (I was mid 20s). Since, I have watched that movie 89 times. Probably should again some day. I figure if that’s all drinking cost me, I got off cheap.


  8. Alcoholism is insidious. When I was a kid I lived in a town where all the men worked in a cement plant. Most of them drank to excess. There was the stop at the bar on the way home. I often wondered what they were trying to blot out — their job or their home life. Perhaps you hit a point in midlife where you really say, “Is this all there is?”


    • I remember my Polish grandmother dragging my father and Uncle John out of Al’s Bar and Grill, the local after work joint. She’d go right in and say, “Boys, time to come home.” My granddad too, where the seeds were first planted.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Lynn says:

    Sam is one of so many impacted by this horrible disease. Alcoholism effects all walks of life, regardless of status, it cares not. Many beautiful people, just like Sam, end up being a shell of themselves, barely recognizable to those how love them.


    • Now that’s what I call a slam dunk accurate point of view. My dad was a refrigeration/air-conditioner man…my Uncle John, a carpenter. My ex clothing designer and Bill Hicks, though sober for well over a year, was a stand-up comic. Yes, alcohol in all its blazing glory does not care who it ruins. Nicely put Lynn.


      • Lynn says:

        I have lived with this disease for so long in my life Susannah. I have watched many of my loved ones go down this path, helpless to bring them back to the people I know & love.

        I would guess that most families are touched by this insidious disease.

        In recent days, I am dealing with this with my Mom. What is interesting is, my parents divorced as a result of my Dad’s alcoholism, many years ago. My mother was not a drinker, other than to enjoy the occasional social cocktail with friends or in a social situation. Aging, depression & loneliness has led her down the exact path she sought to desperately escape from, all those years ago. Ironic, isn’t it!

        Those who feel it only touches the down & out are living under a rock.

        Pardon my french, but I hate this fucking disease!

        We need desperately to look as this horrible addiction & the impact it has on so many human beings. A friend passed this article along to me the other day. Have a read if you chose, it is an interesting read around the issue that AA appears to be the only acceptable way of getting sober. I found it fascinating.



      • My life’s been riddled with it as well, so I truly understand everything you’re saying. It’s so hard to keep afloat, I know this, so my heart opens for your mom. I myself on occasion numb all that ails me with a drink or two. I’m smart enough after watching the family apocalypse to not cross the line.

        Sam Shepard, people like him who may just feel can’t top themselves, choose to hide within that place of removal. AA is an amazing institution and probably the only one that truly helps. When you join Al-Anon they encourage you to go to open meetings to hear that side of the disease. That’s when I learned it was just that…an illness right up there with diabetes or cancer. my dad was sick…your mom sounds sick now.
        As a witness it’s very painful and for this I say to you…I am so, so sorry.


  10. I think those of us who were affected by the results of alcohol in our youth, are more cognizant of what it does to others we may ‘bump’ into in life. Great post. Have missed your writing.


  11. micklively says:

    The list of the “greats” lost to liquor is so long that I can’t help but wonder if alcoholism and greatness are two facets of the same thing?


  12. That’s very sad. I think there is a myth that for writers, alcohol can improve their craft but I think for most, they were great despite the alcoholism.


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  14. Kate Rocke says:

    Enjoyed reading this today. Alcohol robs everyone of time. RIP Sam
    Thank you for this article too SB.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel guilty over this piece and am tempted to delete it. I grew up with alcoholism…lost my dad to it…and I should be more sensitive…but thanks in any event, for writing.


      • Kate Rocke says:

        Hey there, nice to hear from you! I dunno, my eyes were drawn to it when I googled Sam Shepard. It was a real moment in time that shows how people (celeb here) evolve in life. I think you wrote with compassion but also the raw naked truth of the disease and how it strangles its victims. Slowly. I am very close to alcoholism in my ex- husband, parents and now my children and yet this article didn’t upset me. Great job! Have an awesome day!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m here a bit stunned after reading he just died at 73. Did you know that before you read the piece?


      • Kate Rocke says:

        Yes, I did. That’s why I googled him this morning.


      • Kate Rocke says:

        I loved his work, definetly loved his spirit. I knew he had divorced Jessica Lange recently and figured it was due to his alcoholism. I wanted to read about him and was drawn to your piece. Enjoyed it thoroughly! RIP Sam- you left an amazing legacy no matter what your demons were.

        Liked by 1 person

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