‘M*A*S*H’ Actor Donald Sutherland Dies at 88

The legendary actor leaves behind five children.
‘M*A*S*H’ Actor Donald Sutherland Dies at 88
Actor Donald Sutherland poses for photographers in a file image. (Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)
Zachary Stieber
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Actor Donald Sutherland died at age 88, his son announced on June 20.

“With a heavy heart, I tell you that my father, Donald Sutherland, has passed away,” actor Kiefer Sutherland wrote on social media.

Donald Sutherland, a Canadian, acted in major films for decades, including M*A*S*H, The Italian Job, and The Hunger Games movies.

“I personally think [he’s] one of the most important actors in the history of film,” his son 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.”

Donald Sutherland leaves behind a number of family members, including five children and his wife, Francine Racette.

Donald Sutherland was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood in the 1970s and remained in demand for film and TV projects into his 80s. Known for his unconventional looks and his versatility as an actor, he played a wide range of memorable characters.

These included a rascally Army surgeon in M*A*S*H, a quirky tank commander in Kelly’s Heroes, a stoned professor in Animal House, a local official facing an alien presence in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and a despairing father in Ordinary People.

“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,” Donald Sutherland said in his speech accepting an honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement in 2017.

The tall actor was born on July 17, 1935, in Saint John, Canada, and was raised in Nova Scotia. He performed in school productions in college, went to Britain to hone his craft, then moved to the United States, where his first big break came as a member of a top-notch ensemble cast in the 1967 war film The Dirty Dozen.

He rocketed to fame three years later playing nonconformist surgeon Hawkeye Pierce in director Robert Altman’s Korean War satire M*A*S*H. The film—later spun off into a TV series—depicted hijinks at a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, tapping into the anti-war sentiment among many Americans during the Vietnam War era.

Donald Sutherland’s other roles include portraying detective John Klute in the thriller Klute, art dealer Flanders Kittredge in the comedy Six Degrees of Separation, and father Mr. Bennet in the romance Pride & Prejudice.

He became known to younger generations after starring as dictator President Snow in The Hunger Games and its sequels.

Julianne Moore, Liam Hemsworth, Jennifer Lawrence, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Sam Claflin, Natalie Dormer, and Stanley Tucci pose for pictures for an event for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part in London in a file photograph. (Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)
Julianne Moore, Liam Hemsworth, Jennifer Lawrence, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Sam Claflin, Natalie Dormer, and Stanley Tucci pose for pictures for an event for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part in London in a file photograph. (Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

Donald Sutherland has said he was not offered the role.

“I like to read scripts, and it captured my passion,“ he told GQ previously. ”I wrote them a letter. The role of the president had maybe a line in the script. Maybe two. Didn’t make any difference. I thought it was an incredibly important film, and I wanted to be a part of it. I thought it could wake up an electorate that had been dormant since the ’70s.”

The film’s director saw the letter and agreed to hire him.

Donald Sutherland won an Emmy Award in 1995 for outstanding supporting actor for his work as Col. Mikhail Fetisov in the drama Citizen X, and two Golden Globe Awards for his appearances in Citizen X and the thriller Path to War.

A Critics’ Choice Television Award came in 2020 for his portrayal of widower Franklin Reinhardt in the HBO series The Undoing.

His recent work included 2022’s Swimming With Sharks series and the 2023 movie Miranda’s Victim.

Reuters contributed to this report.
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news. Contact Zachary at [email protected]
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