Donald Sutherland Tributes Led By Son, Kiefer

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Donald Sutherland in the 1980 film, Ordinary People

Donald Sutherland, the legendary actor who starred in memorable roles in a broad range of films like M*A*S*H, Ordinary People, The Hunger Games franchise, and National Lampoon’s Animal House, among scores of others, died today (June 20, 2024). His passing, at age 88, was announced by his son and fellow actor, Kiefer Sutherland. “I personally think [he’s] one of the most important actors in the history of film,” he wrote. “He loved what he did and did what he loved, and one can never ask for more.” The quote indirectly referred to a glaring omission: for all of his acclaim, the elder Sutherland never received so much as an Academy Award nomination. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made partial amends when it conferred an honorary award to him in 2017.

In 1970’s M*A*S*H, he played Capt. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce, the same role portrayed by Alan Alda in the acclaimed television dramedy for more than a decade. A decade later, he played Calvin Jarrett in Ordinary People, Robert Redford’s film about the disintegration of a wealthy, suburban family. Fellow stars Mary Tyler Moore and Timothy Hutton were nominated for Academy Awards with the latter winning Best Supporting Actor. The film won for Best Picture and Redford, making his debut behind the camera, won for Best Director.

In between was Klute in 1971 opposite Jane Fonda, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress. “I am heartbroken,” she wrote. And, of course, 1978’s Animal House, where he played an influential, pot smoking professor pal of many of his students.

Tributes for Donald Sutherland quickly arrived from fellow Hollywood greats.

Sutherland’s M*A*S*H co-star, Elliot Gould, called him “a giant, not only physically but as a talent. He was also enormously kind and generous.”

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Sutherland was born on July 17, 1935, in New Brunswick, Canada.

Helen Mirren wrote, “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.”

His filmography also included the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, JFK, 1900, Disclosure, Space Cowboys, and the remake of The Italian Job.

Michael Douglas starred in 1994’s Disclosure, opposite Demi Moore.

Sutherland appeared in a pair of World War II films with large ensemble casts, The Dirty Dozen and Kelly’s Heroes. [Many of his films are available for streaming or purchase here.] He is survived by his wife and five children, including Kiefer.

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