Donald Sutherland (1935-2024) RIP

Written by  //  June 22, 2024  //  Absent Friends  //  Comments Off on Donald Sutherland (1935-2024) RIP

20 June
Actor Donald Sutherland dead at 88
Sutherland’s son, actor Kiefer Sutherland, confirmed his death on Thursday
“With a heavy heart, I tell you that my father, Donald Sutherland, has passed away,” read the post on X. “I personally think one of the most important actors in the history of film. Never daunted by a role, good, bad or ugly. He loved what he did and did what he loved, and one can never ask for more than that.
“A life well lived.”
A magnetic screen star whose chameleon-like penchant for unconventional characters would sustain him throughout a seldom-interrupted career, Sutherland starred in acclaimed titles of the 1970s and ’80s, including M*A*S*H, Klute, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Ordinary People.
His role as President Snow, the quietly sadistic antagonist in The Hunger Games franchise, made him a recognizable face among a new generation, as did his role in 2005’s Pride and Prejudice.
Born Donald McNichol Sutherland on July 17, 1935 in Saint John, N.B., he and his parents lived just outside of the city until he was six years old, then relocated to Bridgewater, a town on Nova Scotia’s south shore. He spent much of his childhood bedridden with various ailments, including polio and scarlet fever.
During a 1970 interview with CBC, the actor referred to himself as a “blue-noser” — an affectionate moniker for the people of Nova Scotia — noting his sense of humour was melded by his upbringing in the province. He maintained a strong Canadian identity throughout his life.
“I have a kind of umbilical tie to the country,” he said, likening his connection with Canada’s natural beauty to that of the Group of Seven, the country’s founding school of visual artists.
Sutherland’s first job at 14 years old was as a news broadcaster and disc jockey for Bridgewater’s local radio station, CKBW. Sutherland also held an early interest in sculpture that was usurped by the passion for acting that called to him in his later teen years.
While studying at University of Toronto’s Victoria College, Sutherland began performing with the Hart House Theatre, an incubator of Canadian stage talent. After completing a dual degree in engineering and drama, he chose to dedicate himself to the latter, moving overseas to attend the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
He worked in the theatre and on small television productions in Canada and Europe from the late 1950s well into the ’60s, when he made his film debut opposite British actor Christopher Lee in 1964’s Castle of the Living Dead.
A walk-on role in 1967’s The Dirty Dozen gave Sutherland foothold in Hollywood, where he broke out further in 1970 with a pair of war pictures that teased his dramatic and comedic range: World War II heist film Kelly’s Heroes and Robert Altman’s movie adaptation of the book M*A*S*H.
… Though he found international success, the actor maintained a professional and personal connection to Canada throughout his life. He narrated two documentaries for the National Film Board in the ’80s, lent his voice to the 2015 Canadian animated film Pirate’s Passage and returned to Toronto theatre — where he got his start — in the early 2000s. He was awarded a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2000.
“I’m a Canadian. The thing about Canada is that you go from east to west, from Nova Scotia to Vancouver. I go away, I will go and live in Paris or I will go and live in London or whatever — [and] even in the United States — but my humour, what I am as a person is here, is rooted here,” he said during an interview with CBC News in 1985.

Brendan Kelly: Donald Sutherland was passionate about the Expos, the Ritz and Georgeville
What’s often overlooked in stories of the acclaimed actor’s life is how he really became a Quebecer. He died Thursday at 88
It was May 2005 and I was sitting in the cafeteria of a Verdun school that was being used as the lunch room for the TV production Human Trafficking, talking to Sutherland and his old friend Terry Haig. Sutherland played a senior agent at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in the mini-series about the global sex trade, a show produced by Montreal’s Muse Entertainment. It also stars Mira Sorvino and Robert Carlyle.
… Sutherland and I had a lengthy chat that day about “city politics” in Georgeville, the bucolic village on the eastern shores of mighty Lake Memphremagog where Sutherland had lived since the late 1970s. Haig’s family also had a home there, right across Magoon Point Rd. from Sutherland’s residence. I also had spent many summers there, often playing tennis with Haig at the single court in the park beside the general store.
Sutherland then began telling me how he thought the Ritz-Carlton is one of the world’s great hotels. The producers had initially booked him into one of those trendy Old Montreal boutique hotels, but Sutherland was having none of that and high-tailed it to the Ritz after two days. Conversation then segued naturally enough to baseball, and the world’s most famous Expos fan surprised me by saying he wasn’t that upset when the Expos left town. That’s because he’d already soured on the team several years earlier.

Donald Sutherland, famed actor dead at 88, remembered ‘like a Quebecer’
The actor owned a residence in the Eastern Townships
Denise Robert, a Canadian film producer, remembers when Quebec director Denys Arcand tapped Donald Sutherland for a role in a film they were working on.
“It wasn’t a big role,” Robert told Radio-Canada. “He said that he accepted with great pleasure because his dream was to shoot with Denys Arcand.”
Sutherland owned a house in a hidden gem in the province: Georgeville, a village in the Eastern Townships.
“He loved the Memphremagog Lake. He wanted to spend as much time as he could around the lake,” said Johanne Lavoie, president of Memphremagog Conservation, a local non-profit organization working to protect the lake.
She hadn’t met Sutherland, but knew the impact he had on the community and how he made the lake “shine around the world.”
“When we asked for help, he did so. We knew we could count on him if we gave him a phone call just like we did a few years ago to support our organization. It helped us get more members around the lake,” said Lavoie.

Donald Sutherland was that rare star who never outshined the role
The actor, who died Thursday at 88, had an unbeatable combination of personal and professional integrity.
Perspective by Ty Burr
(WaPo) Was Donald Sutherland a movie star? He didn’t look like one: A lanky 6’4,” with a curly mop of hair, a lantern jaw and slightly bulbous, iridescent eyes, he was almost traditionally handsome. He didn’t play action heroes or lovesick swains. He was never even nominated for an Oscar. (Out of sheer embarrassment, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded him an honorary statuette in 2017.)
True, the Canadian-born, London-trained Sutherland, who died Thursday at 88, rose to movie fame at the dawn of the 1970s, when unconventional looks were in fashion, and he rode out the decade as a top-billed name. He was a gifted, even great, actor, but a star? He took his roles seriously but not the industry game; you sensed, beyond the integrity of the performances, a personal integrity that kept him on an even keel.
Sutherland had the charisma, but maybe he didn’t have the ego necessary to be a movie star. Maybe that’s why he wasn’t a box-office draw like some of his peers (Redford, Nicholson, Hoffman, Hackman). Instead, he was a guarantor of quality and of the pleasurable realization, as the end credits rolled, that he had owned every scene he was in. …

Donald Sutherland’s talent, kindness remembered in Hollywood and back home in Canada
Donald Sutherland, a Canadian actor whose career spanned more than six decades, has died at the age of 88. Born in Saint John, N.B., he starred in several acclaimed titles in the 1970s and ‘80s, including M*A*S*H, Ordinary People and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. He also played President Snow in The Hunger Games franchise in the early 2010s.
Friends, colleagues and admirers share memories of actor from on- and off-screen
(CBC) Terry Haig has fond memories of the long drives he and Donald Sutherland would take from Georgeville, Que., to see the Montreal Expos baseball team at their home stadium.
As they drove, the on-screen giant — who kept up with baseball long after the Expos later left Montreal — would share life wisdom and acting tips.
“Donald was one of the greatest people I’ve ever met,” said Haig, a Canadian journalist and fellow actor. “Donald was absolutely brilliant. Donald’s commitment to the truth, in my mind, was contagious. It sharpened me up just a bit just to talk with him.”
Haig was one of many friends, colleagues and fellow Canadians who shared fond memories of the late actor on Thursday after his family announced on Thursday he had died at the age of 88. They remembered Sutherland, a distinguished figure in Hollywood for the majority of his life, as a brilliant artist, generous mentor and devout Canadian.

Comments are closed.