Donald Sutherland: Hunger Games actor dies aged 88

Actor Donald Sutherland, best known for his roles in The Dirty Dozen, M*A*S*H and most recently The Hunger Games, has died aged 88.

Donald Sutherland Hunger Games Canadian actor
© Hulton Archive / Intermittent
Donald Sutherland Hunger Games Canadian actor

On 20 June, it was announced that Donald Sutherland passed away at the age of 88. The Hunger Games actor is one of many recognised celebrities that we've lost this year.

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It was revealed that the Canadian actor died after 'a long illness'. His son, actor Kiefer Sutherland, shared the sad news on social network X. He said:

With a heavy heart, I tell you that my father, Donald Sutherland, has passed away,
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.

The news came as a shock to the industry and many of his fans, especially given the fact that not much was known about the illness that Sutherland was suffering from.

What do we know about his health?

Indeed, even when his agency announced the tragic news of his passing, they did not reveal any further details about his cause of death and only stated:

Acclaimed actor Donald Sutherland died today in Miami, Florida, after a long illness. He was 88 years old.

That being said, Sutherland has had his fair share of health problems ever since he was a child.

As reported by The New York Times, the actor had hepatitis, rheumatic fever, and polio—which left him with one leg that was shorter than the other.

It didn't end there, Sutherland also revealed that he had actually died and came back to life after he got spinal meningitis while filming Kelly's Heroes in Yugoslavia in 1970. He said in an interview:

I went into a coma and they tell me that for a few seconds, I died.

Despite his bouts with bad health, the Canadian lived a very successful and full life, which his son did not fail to mention. Let's take a look at his career and achievements.

Donald Sutherland exploded onto the scene with his role in The Dirty Dozen.

Donald Sutherland was born on July 17, 1935 in New Brunswick, Canada. He made his stage debut in Toronto, before moving to London to study at the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

He made his film debut in The Castle of the Living Dead(1963) alongside Christopher Lee and then appeared in small roles in TV series such as The Saint with Roger Moore and Chapeau melon et bottes de cuir.

However it was his role in Robert Aldrich's The Twelve Bastards (1967) that earned him much recognition. During the 70s, he took on a succession of projects—playing in two war films, De l'or pour les braves with Clint Eastwood, who recently made a public appearance after a long time, and Robert Altman's M*A*S*H.

In 1971, he starred in Alan J. Pakula's Klute. Donald Sutherland went on to shine in Bernardo Bertolucci's 1900 (1975), Fellini's Casanova (1976), The Day of the Plague (1976), and Michael Crichton's The Great Attack of the Gold Train (1978).

Donald Sutherland's career was rewarded with an honorary Oscar

The following decades were a little more complicated for the actor. He appeared in Hugh Hudson's Weapon in the Eye (1981), Revolution (1985), A Dry White Season (1989), and High Security (1989) with Sylvester Stallone.

In the 90s, he played a series of supporting roles in Ron Howard's Backdraft (1991), Oliver Stone's JFK (1991), Barry Levinson's Harassment (1994) with Michael Douglas, Alert! (1994) by Wolfgang Petersen with Dustin Hoffman, and Le droit de tuer? (1996) by Joel Schumacher.

In the early 2000s, he reunited with Clint Eastwood in Space Cowboys (2000). In 2007, he joined the cast of Dirty Sexy Money.

He made his return to the big screen in the films based on the literary saga Hunger Games, where he played President Coriolanus Snow, a role he carried from 2012 to 2015. In 2018, he received an honorary Oscar for his entire career.

This article has been translated and adapted from Télé2semaines.

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Sources used:

The New York Times: Donald Sutherland, Shape-Shifting Movie Star, Dies at 88

Today: Donald Sutherland dies at 88: Cause of death is 'long illness'

Michael Jayston: Only Fools and Horses actor has sadly died aged 88 Michael Jayston: Only Fools and Horses actor has sadly died aged 88