Donald Sutherland, Renowned Actor Known for ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Ordinary People,’ Dies at 88

Sutherland, known for his iconic roles, dies at 88 after a long illness

Donald Sutherland in 2019. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, ARNOLD JEROCKI/GETTY)
Donald Sutherland in 2019. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, ARNOLD JEROCKI/GETTY)

Donald Sutherland, the esteemed actor celebrated for his roles in The Hunger Games series and countless other films and TV shows, has passed away at the age of 88.

Sutherland died on Thursday, June 20, in Miami after a prolonged illness, as confirmed by his representative Missy Davy from CAA to PEOPLE. The family will be holding a private celebration of his life, Davy stated.

Sutherland leaves behind five children, including his famous actor son Kiefer Sutherland, whom he had with his ex-wife, actress Shirley Douglas. He is also survived by five grandchildren.

Sutherland was previously married to Lois Hardwick before marrying actress Francine Racette in 1972, with whom he had three children: Roeg, Rossif, and Angus.

His daughter Rachel, shared with Douglas, is also among his survivors. Shirley Douglas passed away in 2020 at the age of 86.

Donald Sutherland’s career was marked by a diverse range of roles spanning several decades.

Donald Sutherland in Ordinary People (1980). (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, PARAMOUNT PICTURES/ COURTESY: EVERETT COLLECTION)
Donald Sutherland in Ordinary People (1980). (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, PARAMOUNT PICTURES/ COURTESY: EVERETT COLLECTION)

He portrayed Mr. Bennet in the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice alongside Keira Knightley and played the iconic character Hawkeye Pierce in the 1970 film M*A*S*H.

His portrayal of the stern and calculating President Snow in all four The Hunger Games movies, where he starred with Jennifer Lawrence, left a lasting impression on audiences.

Sutherland’s contributions to cinema also include notable performances in Ordinary People (1980), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), and The Dirty Dozen (1967), which was a pivotal point in his career. More recently, he appeared in television series such as The Undoing, Trust, and Swimming with Sharks.

His exceptional work earned him an Emmy for the 1995 TV movie Citizen X, and in 2017, he was honored with an Honorary Academy Award.

This award recognized his lifetime of work characterized by unforgettable characters rendered with unwavering truthfulness.

Despite his extensive filmography and the critical acclaim he garnered, Sutherland never received a competitive Oscar nomination.

Donald Sutherland in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (2014). (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, COLOR FORCE/LIONSGATE/KOBAL/SHUTTERSTOCK)
Donald Sutherland in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014). (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, COLOR FORCE/LIONSGATE/KOBAL/SHUTTERSTOCK)

During his acceptance speech for the Honorary Academy Award, Sutherland reflected on his career and expressed his gratitude.

“This award is very important to me, to my family,” he said. “It’s like a door has opened and a cool, wonderfully fresh breath of air has come in.

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.”

He paid a heartfelt tribute to his wife, Francine Racette, acknowledging her role in his success.

“Thank you to Francine Racette, from whom everything has come—that’s my family—from whom everything has come, and to whom everything is owed.

I have been a partner to her for over 45 years, and in all that she has supported me with her intelligence, her intuition, her instruction, her ability to make me laugh in the direst of situations, her extraordinary sense of taste, her residual belief in me.”

He added, “Amongst all of these, her ability to absorb and sustain the extraordinary ups and downs of this crazy movie life we have gone through.

Donald Sutherland, Rossif Sutherland and Kiefer Sutherland in 2011. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, AARON HARRIS/GETTY)
Donald Sutherland, Rossif Sutherland and Kiefer Sutherland in 2011. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, AARON HARRIS/GETTY)

I mean, she deserves a medal for that. So, Francine, I’m going to get you a medal.”

Kiefer Sutherland, in a 2022 interview with The Guardian, spoke about how his father’s illustrious career influenced his own path in Hollywood.

“It’s hard to think of another actor who’s been as prolific and made films as diverse as Ordinary People, Don’t Look Now, Fellini’s Casanova, Bertolucci’s 1900 and The Hunger Games,” he said.

“His influence was to make my career as diversified and interesting as possible, which he taught me by doing, not by saying, which was really cool.”

Donald Sutherland himself expressed surprise at the lasting impact of his role in The Hunger Games.

In a 2014 interview with Variety, he recounted how young fans would often ask for photos, intrigued by his portrayal of President Snow.

He humorously recalled, “Usually, right before the picture is taken the young woman will say, ‘Why do you look so mean?’” He also shared a moment when he realized the franchise’s significance: “I was at my dermatologist, and she asked me what I was doing next.

I told her I was about to do something called The Hunger Games. She gasped and started calling everyone into the room, and they all came running. That was my first inkling it might be something big.”

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