Kiefer Sutherland’s mother, Shirley Douglas, passed away at the age of 86. The veteran actress died of pneumonia on Sunday morning in Toronto, Canada.
Douglas was a Canadian thespian and activist who worked alongside a number of acclaimed directors. One memorable movie cast her as Mrs. Starch in the controversial 1962 film Lolita, led by Stanley Kubrick. She also worked on David Cronenberg’s 1988 film, Dead Ringers.
She also played a widowed mother during the Depression in the 1996 television drama Wind at My Back. She won a Gemini Award for her performance in the 1999 TV film Shadow Lake.
Keifer Sutherland took to Twitter to announce the tragic news. He called his mother “an extraordinary woman who led an extraordinary life.”
Keifer Sutherland said mom Shirley Douglas died of pneumonia
He said she had died due to complications surrounding pneumonia. He also emphasized that her death was unrelated to COVID-19.
“Sadly, she had been battling for her health for quite some time, and we, as a family, knew this day was coming,” the star of the television show 24 wrote on Twitter.
“To any families who have lost loved ones unexpectedly to the coronavirus, my heart breaks for you. Please stay safe,” he finished the post.
— Kiefer Sutherland (@RealKiefer) April 5, 2020
The Toronto-based actress had been married to actor Donald Sutherland from 1966 to 1971. The pair had twin children, Kiefer and Rachel. The familial acting talent has continued with a third generation since Douglas’s granddaughter, Sarah Sutherland, stars in Veep.
Douglas’ father was former Saskatchewan premier Tommy Douglas, founder of Canada’s Medicare system. She had a son, Thomas, from a previous marriage.
In the 60s and 70s, Douglas lived in California where she protested against the Vietnam War.
At the time, she also established a fundraising group called Friends of the Black Panthers. This action brought her controversy and led to unwelcome attention from the law.
Due to her association with the Black Panthers, she was charged with conspiracy to possess unregistered explosives in 1969. However, the courts eventually dismissed the case, exonerating her.
Tributes poured in for Shirley Douglas
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Douglas a “tremendous talent,” a “tireless activist” and a “fearless activist who never stopped fighting for what she believed in.”
He referred to her passing as “a true loss for our country.”
Shirley Douglas was a tremendous talent, a tireless advocate, and a fearless activist who never stopped fighting for what she believed in. Her passing is a true loss for our country, and I’m sending my condolences to @RealKiefer and their entire family during this difficult time.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) April 6, 2020
Since 2004, Douglas had been a member of Canada’s Walk of Fame. The organization tweeted its sadness, stating that not only was “she cherished on stage and screen,” but that she was an “inspirational activist,” and “an Officer of the Order of Canada.”
May she rest in peace.
We are saddened to hear of the passing of 2004 #CWOF Inductee Shirley Douglas, seen here at her Induction. Not only was she cherished on stage and screen, she was an inspirational activist, an Officer of the Order of Canada and the mother of 2005 CWOF Inductee, Kiefer Sutherland. pic.twitter.com/BemC5bwW2y
— Canada’s Walk of Fame (@CWOFame) April 6, 2020
Twitter users remembered her fondly for her activism regarding Canada’s healthcare system.
We in the NSNDP join in the sorrow registered at the passing of Shirley Douglas. An actor and activist, she was especially appreciated in Canada for her pivotal advocacy for universal health care. She was Tommy Douglas's daughter, yes; and a great New Democrat in her own right.
— Gary Burrill (@GaryBurrill) April 6, 2020
There have been a few celebrity deaths in recent days.
Last Friday the world lost legendary soul singer Bill Withers who died of heart complications at 81.
Earlier this year, Hollywood icon Kirk Douglas (no relation to Shirley) passed away. He was 103 years old.