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Actor Donald Sutherland dies aged 88

June 20, 2024

The Canadian actor was known for his varied roles in "M*A*S*H" and "The Hunger Games," among others. His son said Sutherland "loved what he did" and led "a life well lived."

A black and white photo of Donald Sutherland
Donald Sutherland was remembered by his son as one of the most important actors everImage: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP/dpa/picture alliance

Canadian actor Donald Sutherland has died, his family announced on Thursday. He was 88.

"With a heavy heart, I tell you that my father, Donald Sutherland, has passed away," his son Kiefer Sutherland posted on social media.

Sutherland won numerous accolades during his career spanning the 1960s through to the 2020s.

A storied career on screen

Sutherland was once one of the biggest stars in Hollywood thanks to his roles like Hawkeye Piece, the rascally army surgeon in "M*A*S*H," or a quirky tank commander Sgt. Oddball in the film "Kelly's Heroes."

He was known for his tall frame and piercing eyes that helped him play both dashing lead men as well as antiheroes and villains.

Sutherland remained active long after his initial stardom and won over a new generation of fans in the 21st century as President Coriolanus Snow in "The Hunger Games."

"I personally think [he was] one of the most important actors in the history of film. Never daunted by a role, good, bad or ugly," his son wrote.

"He loved what he did and did what he loved, and one can never ask for more than that. A life well lived."

Sutherland attributed his illustrious career to his love of cinema.

"I love to work. I passionately love to work," he once said in 1998.

"I love to feel my hand fit into the glove of some other character. I feel a huge freedom — time stops for me. I'm not as crazy as I used to be, but I'm still a little crazy."

 Academy Award nomination for acting remained elusive 

In 2017, he received an Academy Honorary Award for his acting but failed to get an Oscar nod during his lengthy career. He won two Golden Globe awards for "Citizen X" and the TV film "Path to War."

"I wish I could say thank you to all of the characters that I've played, thank them for using their lives to inform my life," Sutherland said in his speech accepting the honorary Oscar. 

His talent agency CAA said, "Sutherland is survived by his wife Francine Racette, sons Roeg, Rossif, Angus, and Kiefer, daughter Rachel, and four grandchildren."

Tributes to Sutherland

Hollywood and Canada paid tribute to Sutherland.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said Sutherland "was a man with a strong presence, a brilliance in his craft and truly, truly a great Canadian artist."

Helen Mirren who starred with Donald Sutherland in "The Leisure Seeker"

Ron Howard, who directed Sutherland in "Backdraft," called him "one of the most intelligent, interesting and engrossing film actors of all time."

zc/ab,lo (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)