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July 17: Donald Sutherland

Donald Sutherland (1934)

Donald Sutherland

It was on this date, July 17, 1934, that actor Donald Sutherland was born Donald McNichol Sutherland in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. The unusual-looking, lanky actor reached a height of 6'4" (1.93 m) by adulthood, and his distinctive voice seems to have been bequeathed to his son, actor Kiefer Sutherland. After studying at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in the late 1950s, then traveling Europe, Donald Sutherland made his Hollywood break in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He played a military misfit in 1967's Dirty Dozen and came to prominence as Korean War surgeon Hawkeye Pierce in Robert Altman's 1970 anti-war film, M*A*S*H.

Other films include the Jane Fonda thriller Klute (1971), Ordinary People (1980), Eye of the Needle (1981), Backdraft (1991), JFK (1991), Six Degrees of Separation (1993), Disclosure (1994), Outbreak (1995), the popular remake of The Italian Job (2003), and Cold Mountain (2003).

Veteran actors often get invited to "Inside the Actors Studio" on the Bravo channel. During the 13 June 1999 broadcast, the interviewer asked, "If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you are at the Pearly Gates?" Sutherland chuckled and replied, "Oh, you know something? I'm so far away from believing that it exists, and the only thing I know are jokes about it." Pressed to humor the question, Sutherland quipped, "`You're just in time. We're casting the film. God has this girl....'"

Originally published July 2003 by Ronald Bruce Meyer.

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Ronald Bruce Meyer

Our Fearless Leader.


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