Shirley Douglas, Canadian Actor and Activist, Dies of Pneumonia at 86

Lawrence Kim
April 6, 2020

Shirley Douglas, a veteran actress and mother of actor Kiefer Sutherland, has died.

Douglas's son, actor Kiefer Sutherland, took to Twitter to announce the unfortunate news.

"My mother was an extraordinary woman who led an extraordinary life", he wrote. "Sadly she had been battling for her health for quite some time and we, as a family, knew this day was coming", Sutherland continued.

She has appeared in films from acclaimed filmmakers such as Stanley Kubrick's Lolita (1962) and David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers (1988).

Douglas married actor Donald Sutherland in 1965. Douglas also shared son Thomas from a previous marriage.

Fans have already begun their tributes to Douglas, including many who remembered meeting her in the past. "My thoughts are with you and I wish you peace and strength".

Her father, Tommy Douglas, was a well-known Canadian statesman and the first leader of the federal New Democratic Party.

Douglas graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London in 1952 and performed on stage and TV for several years before returning to Canada in 1957.

In the '60s and '70s, while living in California, Douglas campaigned against the Vietnam War and protested for various politicial and social causes.

She also helped to establish a fundraising group called Friends of the Black Panthers.

Speaking to The Star in 2013, she remained tight-lipped about their time together, simply stating, "Well, we moved to Los Angeles, we lived there a while..." The courts eventually dismissed the case and exonerated her. Her acting career kicked off in 1950 at the Regina Little Theatre. "She was extremely pleasant and spoke highly of you. He was tough... It was great theatre long before I ever knew what theatre was". And when you have no choice and you see something, it's like if you see a child going to be run over by a vehicle - you grab the child.

A respected stage and film actress, Douglas appeared in a number of notable projects, including Wind at My Back, The Stone Angel, The Silver Surfer, and Flash Gordon. She also co-founded the first chapter of the Performing Artists for Nuclear Disarmament in Canada. Her last film role was in the 2000 Canadian movie The Law of Enclosures, while her final TV appearance was in 2008's Degrassi: The Next Generation.

"Kiefer, I loved watching your mom's work".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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