Sam Sheppard

Physician / Crime Suspect

Born: 29 December 1923
Died: 6 April 1970
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio
Best known as:

The Ohio doctor who inspired TV's The Fugitive.

Sam Sheppard was a young, successful physician in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio before he was the subject of a nationally famous murder trial. On 4 July 1954 his pregnant wife Marilyn was murdered, and Dr. Sheppard was soon arrested and charged with her murder. He maintained his innocence, claiming he'd wrestled with a "bushy-haired stranger," was knocked unconscious, and woke up to find his wife dead. He was convicted and spent 10 years in prison before his conviction was overturned on appeal. In 1966 he was retried and found not guilty. So much for freedom -- he spent his last years battling booze and appearing as "Killer Sheppard" in professional wrestling matches.

Extra credit:

The Sam Sheppard case is said to have been the inspiration for the TV series The Fugitive (1963-67), in which the wrongly-accused Dr. Richard Kimble hunted the mysterious one-armed man who had killed his wife. Kimble was played by actor David Janssen in the TV series, and by Harrison Ford in the 1993 feature film The Fugitive.

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More on Sam Sheppard from Fact Monster:

  • Sam Sheppard - Biography of Sam Sheppard, The real-life inspiration for TV's The Fugitive
  • Selected Biographies: S - Selected biographies of well-known people and fictional characters
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