Donald Sutherland, the beloved Canadian actor renowned for his roles in iconic films such as The Dirty Dozen, MASH, Klute, and Don’t Look Now, passed away on Thursday in Miami after a long illness. He was 88.

The Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actor, who received an Honorary Oscar in 2017, left an indelible mark on cinema with a career spanning over six decades and more than 200 film and television credits. He was also known for his recent portrayal of President Snow in The Hunger Games franchise.

Born on July 17, 1935, in Saint John, New Brunswick, Sutherland initially made his mark in 1967’s The Dirty Dozen, where he played Vernon Pinkley. His big break came when director Robert Aldrich, recognizing his unique presence, expanded his role, turning the initially minor part into a memorable performance. This role set the stage for his future success in Hollywood.

A Remarkable Career

Sutherland’s versatility was evident in roles ranging from the sardonic Hawkeye Pierce in Robert Altman’s M.A.S.H. to the emotionally complex John Klute in “Klute,” opposite Jane Fonda.

In the 1970s, Sutherland became a countercultural icon, with standout roles in Kelly’s Heroes, Little Murders, and SPYS. Despite his success, he was known for making eccentric career choices, turning down mainstream roles for projects like Alex in Wonderland and Johnny Got His Gun. And of course, he was one of a small cadre of actors that made what could have been an otherwise dreary little film called Invasion of the Body Snatchers into a sci-fi cult classic.

On television, Sutherland won an Emmy for his role in HBO’s Citizen X and starred in series like Dirty Sexy Money, Commander in Chief, and The Pillars of the Earth.

He won numerous international accolades and was often cited by critics as one of the best actors to never have been nominated for an Oscar. In 2017, Sutherland received an Honorary Oscar  “for a lifetime of indelible characters, rendered with unwavering truthfulness.”

Anne Thompson of The Wire said “Canadian-born Sutherland began his career — boasting more than 140 film credits over six decades — with small roles in British and Italian films before his breakthrough in “he Dirty Dozen (1967). Since then, he starred in iconic films such as “M*A*S*H,” “Klute,” Don’t Look Now,” The Day of the Locust1900, Invasion of the Body SnatchersOrdinary PeopleCold MountainThe Italian Job, and Pride & Prejudice. Most recently, he played President Snow in The Hunger Games series.

Sutherland’s penultimate role was as Judge Parker in the TV mini-series Lawmen Bass Reeves. His final role will be as Rick in the horror project Heart Land (currently in post-production.

Few actors slipped as seamlessly from drama to comedy as Donald Sutherland. His son, actor Keifer Sutherland, said “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.”

Dame Helen Mirren said “Donald Sutherland was one of the smartest actors I ever worked with. He had a wonderful enquiring brain, and a great knowledge on a wide variety of subjects. He combined this great intelligence with a deep sensitivity, and with a seriousness about his profession as an actor. This all made him into the legend of film that he became. He was my colleague and became my friend. I will miss his presence in this world.”


Donald Sutherland was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1978, the same honor William Shatner was given in 2019. In 2019, Sutherland was upgraded to Companion of the Order of Canada. He was inducted into the Canadian Walk of Fame and into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2011. In his over 200 roles, he was nominated for various awards 33 times, and won 24. Oddly, he was never nominated for a competitive Oscar, although he was given an honorary one in 2017. He was only nominated for a Saturn Award once, in 1979, for the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Sutherland was nominated for a BAFTA Award trice, for Don’t Look Now and Steelyard Blues (1973). In 2013 he was made a Commander of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In 2023, Canada Post issued a stamp in his honor, as one of Canada’s most distinguished actors. He won both a Primetime Emmy and a Golden Globe Award for his performance in Citizen X. In 2005 Sutherland was granted an honorary doctorate of arts from Middlebury Collegei in Middlebury, Vermont. In 2015 Sutherland was nominated for the Blimp Award for Best Villain in The HungerGames: Mockingjay, Part 1. In 2014, he was again nominated for Best Villain for the MTV Movie + TV Awards, this time for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Donald Sutherland is survived by his wife, Francine Racette; sons Roeg, Rossif, Angus, and Kiefer; daughter Rachel; and four grandchildren. The family will hold a private celebration of his life, honoring a career that left a lasting legacy in both film and television.

SCIFI Radio Staff
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