Sam Shephard. Picture: Supplied/Bang Showbiz

Sam Shepard has died at the age of 73.

The actor and playwright passed away last Thursday at his home in Kentucky from complications from amyotrophic lateral scleros (ALS), family spokesperson Chris Boneau has confirmed.

Boneau asked for privacy for the family "at this difficult time" and said funeral arrangements would be made in private.

In his long career, Shepard - whose full name was Samuel Shepard Rogers III - wrote more than 40 plays and was also nominated for the Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars for his performance in 1983's 'The Right Stuff'. Shepard also won the Pulitzer Prize for drama for 'Buried Child' in 1979.

Shepard had roles in 'Steel Magnolias', 'Black Hawk Down' and most recently, Netflix's 'Bloodline.'

Shepard is survived by his three children - Hannah and Samuel, who he had with his ex-partner Jessica Lange - and son Jesse, from his relationship with O-Lan Jones as well as his sisters Roxanne and Sandy Rogers.

Since his tragic death, tributes have flooded in for the actor.

Director Ava DuVernay wrote on Twitter: "Sam Shepard. Whenever he came on-screen, you knew you were in good hands. A frame from Days of Heaven. May he rest in love."

Whilst Antonio Banderas shared: "Jeanne Moreau, Sam Shepard thank you for enlighten us at 24 frames per second. RIP (sic)"

And one fan wrote: "May you rest In peace, Mr. Shepard. Your works and performances have enriched, haunted and enlightened so very many of my days #samshepard (sic)"