Donald Sutherland has had an outstanding acting career that includes memorable roles in movies such as The Dirty Dozen (1967), M*A*S*H (1970), Don’t Look Now (1973), Ordinary People (1980), and The Hunger Games franchise (2012-2015). Since he’s well into his 80s now, many fans are wondering about his health as well as how he’s choosing to spend his golden years.
Sutherland is evidently doing very well and is committed to staying professionally active. He’s not only still very much alive, but from all indications, still going strong. He seems firmly set against limiting his schedule. According to Biography, Sutherland said, “I’m going to be working until I’m helping them with the shovel.” Nevertheless, his brilliant career has lasted for longer than six decades and shows no indication of wrapping up anytime soon.
Donald Sutherland Remains Active Well Into His 80s Despite A Sickly Childhood
Born on July 17, 1935, in Saint John, New Brunswick, Sutherland had to cope with numerous serious illnesses when he was young, including rheumatic fever that was responsible for making him miss the entire fourth grade, hepatitis, and poliomyelitis. The first word Sutherland could say was “neck” due to the discomfort he was in because of polio. The illness reportedly caused one of his legs to be shorter than the other.
As of today, he is still acting. He lives in Santa Monica, California, with his third wife, French-Canadian actress Francine Racette.
He’s Showing No Signs Of Retirement So Far
Sutherland has maintained a robust pace, completing five projects in 2019 alone. His most recent film projects include Alone (2020) and Mr. Harrigan’s Phone (2022). He has also appeared in several TV series, including The Undoing (2020) and Swimming with Sharks (2022). His upcoming projects include Miranda’s Victim and a voice acting role in Ozi – Voice of the Forest.
He Continues To Be Recognized For His Talents
Sutherland was the recipient of an honorary Academy Award in 2017 and Companion of the Order of Canada (CC) in 2019.
He Nearly Died In His 30s, But He Seems Remarkably Healthy In Later Life
Childhood illnesses were not the only threats to Sutherland’s health. While Sutherland was making a film titled Kelly’s Heroes in 1970 in Yugoslavia, he contracted spinal meningitis. It was a close call for him between life and death.
“I got sick in the middle of shooting,” he said. “I came to Yugoslavia for a day’s filming and I was out for six weeks. They took me to the hospital—I had spinal meningitis. They didn’t have antibiotics so I went into a coma, and they tell me that for a few seconds I died. I saw the blue tunnel, and I started going down it. I saw the white light. I dug my feet in, I didn’t want to go—but it was incredibly tempting.”
He underwent seven spinal taps. “People would come into this very white room I was bedded in in Novi Sad, look at me, and start to cry. … It was not encouraging. I was in lousy shape.”
Sutherland was sent to a hospital in England to recover. A month and a half later, he was back in Yugoslavia filming. He was feeling shaky and anything but normal from his ordeal. “I could walk and talk,” he recalled, “but my brains were truly fried.”
Donald Sutherland is definitely not a quitter. He has withstood every setback he has faced since his youth, from many major health problems to bullying that came with his unconventional looks. Sutherland has always capitalized upon being a versatile actor who is impossible to categorize. Not fitting any mold has actually been his strength. In an industry where traditional good looks are the coin of the realm, Sutherland has self-deprecatingly referred to himself as “an ugly man.” He has established himself as a star whose roles have become part of cinematic lore—and he’s nowhere near done yet.