Sam Shepard was born Samuel Shepard Rogers in Fort Sheridan, IL, to Jane Elaine (Schook), a teacher, and Samuel Shepard Rogers, a teacher and farmer who was also in the army. As the eldest son of a US Army officer (and WWII bomber pilot), Shepard spent his early childhood moving from base to base around the US until finally settling in Duarte, CA. While at high school he began acting and writing and worked as a ranch hand in Chino. He graduated high school in 1961 and then spent a year studying agriculture at Mount San Antonio Junior College, intending to become a vet.
In 1962, though, a touring theater company, the Bishop's Company Repertory Players, visited the town and he joined up and left home to tour with them. He spent nearly two years with the company and eventually settled in New York where he began writing plays, first performing with an obscure off-off-Broadway group but eventually gaining recognition for his writing and winning prestigious OBIE awards (Off-Broadway) three