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Acting Legend Donald Sutherland Passes Away

June 20, 2024 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Donald Sutherland JFK Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

The film world has lost an icon as Donald Sutherland, star of films like M*A*S*H, The Hunger Games and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, has passed away. CAA’s Missy Davy confirmed to THR that the legendary actor passed away on Thursday in Miami, Florida after a long illness. He was 88 years old.

Sutherland had a career that lasted over seven decades and included work in all facets of the industry from film and television to stage work. He was able to move smoothly from character work to leading man status and worked in all genres from drama and comedy to horror, westerns, science fiction and more. From 1962 until his final project, the TV series Lawman: Bass Reeves that released late last year, his career spanned 199 roles and included roles in films like Klute, Ordinary People, The Dirty Dozen, and Don’t Look Now.

Sutherland began his career at the Perth Repertory Theatre in Scotland and began picking up small roles in British films and television. His first credited role was as a switchboard operator in the 1962 series Studio 4. He got work in genre films with 1964’s Castle of the Living Dead opposite Christopher Lee, 1964’s Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, and Hammer Films’ 1965 film Die! Die! My Darling!. He also appeared in the Cold War film The Bedford Incident in 1965 and the BBC teleplay Lee Oswald – Assassin, as well as an episode of the TV Series The Saint.

Bigger roles followed, including an episode of The Avengers in 1967 and the role of Vernon L. Pinkley in The Dirty Dozen that same year. His true breakthrough was in 1970 when he played “Hawkeye” Pierce in Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H. Suutherland followed that up with Kelly’s Heroes and Klute, which furthers his ascent to leading man status. Films like Don’t Look Now, The Eagle Has Landed, The Eye of the Needle, The First Great Train Robbery, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers followed.

While the 1970s were arguably the height of Sutherland’s career, he continued to work regularly throughout the rest of the 20th century, often in leading roles. He starred in Robert Redford’s drama Ordinary People in 1980, apartheid drama A Dry White Season and the Sylvester Stallone action film Lock Up in 1989, the firefighter thriller Backdraft and Olver Stone’s JFK in 1991, and the stage adaptation of Six Degrees of Separation in 1993. He also had a role as Merrick the Watcher in the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer film and acted opposite his son Kiefer Sutherland in the adaptation of John Grisham’s A Time to Kill.

Among his biggest 21st century films were the space adventure drama Space Cowboys opposite Clint Eastwood and Tommy Lee Jones, the 2003 Oscar-nominated Civil War drama Cold Mountain, the remake of The Italian Job, the TV series Commander in Chief, and of course President Snow in the Hunger Games franchise.

On behalf of 411, our condolences to the family, friends, and legions fans of fans of Mr. Sutherland. He will most certainly be missed.

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Donald Sutherland, Jeremy Thomas