Give me the toughest pilot you’ve got – like Chuck Yeager, the first man to break the sound barrier. He was a relatively obscure hero until Sam Shepard played him in the role of his career in The Right Stuff.
Playing Yeager, Sam Shepard gave the film real heft. He was the center of its gravity. Ironically, Sam had a great fear of flying, but while preparing for the role, he allowed Chuck Yeager to take him up in a jet.
There was so much more to Sam than just his ultra-cool acting roles – he was a prolific playwright whose writing appeared on Broadway many times. For me, Sam was one of the coolest showbiz guys of all time, and it’s a bummer that he fell victim to ALS and passed this week.
It’s also strange to consider that Chuck Yeager, who is 94 years old – 20 years older than Sam, and a man who risked his life hundreds of times as a pilot and a war hero – outlived Sam. Sorry to see him go.