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Actress, Activist Shirley Douglas Dead at 86

Kiefer Sutherland's mom dies of pneumonia complications, not related to coronavirus
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2020 1:21 AM CDT
Updated Apr 6, 2020 5:05 AM CDT

(Newser) – Shirley Douglas—Canadian actress, activist, and mother to Kiefer Sutherland—died Sunday morning, just three days after turning 86. While Douglas died of complications from pneumonia, Sutherland said her death was not related to COVID-19, the CBC reports. "Sadly she had been battling for her health for quite some time and we, as a family, knew this day was coming," said Sutherland on Twitter. "To any families who have lost loved ones unexpectedly to the Coronavirus, my heart breaks for you. Please stay safe." Douglas was the daughter of Canada's medicare founder, Tommy Douglas, and she married actor Donald Sutherland in 1965. They had two children, Kiefer and his twin sister Rachel, before divorcing in 1971, per People; she also had a son from a previous marriage.

"My mother was an extraordinary woman who led an extraordinary life," said Sutherland in his statement. While a drama student in England, she participated in anti-nuclear marches. Later, in addition to working with such filmmakers as Stanley Kubrick on Lolita and David Cronenberg on Dead Ringers, she was a prominent activist, backing causes including the civil rights movement, public health care, and more. While living in California, she protested the Vietnam War. Her support for the Black Panthers actually got her arrested, though the charges of possessing unregistered explosives were ultimately dropped and she was exonerated. She won a Gemini Award and was nominated for two others over the course of her acting career, which included film, television, and stage roles. (Read more obituary stories.)

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