Canadian actress and activist Shirley Douglas dies at 86

Brenda Watkins
April 6, 2020

"Early this morning, my mother, Shirley Douglas, passed away due to complications surrounding pneumonia", Sutherland writes.

Douglas, a Canadian who celebrated her 86th birthday just this past Thursday, shared Kiefer and his twin sister Rachel with ex-husband Donald Sutherland.

He continued, "My mother was an extraordinary woman who led an extraordinary life".

The Canadian activist received numerous awards and honours throughout her life, including the Order of Canada. She is the daughter of former Saskatchewan Premier Tommy Douglas, though Shirley was drawn to performing as a young girl. "To any families who have lost loved unexpectedly to the coronavirus, my heart breaks for you".

Our thoughts are with Shirley Douglas' loved ones during this hard time. "He was tough... It was great theatre long before I ever knew what theatre was". She graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London in 1952 and worked in England before returning to Canada in 1957. She appeared in projects like "Wind at My Back", "The Stone Angel" and narrated the children's program "Franklin".

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Douglas, though, was foremost a champion for Canada's medicare system. She also performed in The Vagina Monolgues in 2000. I loved coming to rehearsal.

Speaking to The Star in 2013, she remained tight-lipped about their time together, simply stating, "Well, we moved to Los Angeles, we lived there a while..."

In the '60s and '70s, while living in California, Douglas campaigned against the Vietnam War and protested for various causes. She helped establish the group, "Friends of the Black Panthers"- a decision that sparked controversy, as Douglas was subsequently denied a United States work permit. Her support for the group brought controversy, though - she was refused a USA work permit and arrested in 1969 on conspiracy charges of possessing unregistered explosives.

Douglas also had one son, Thomas, from her first marriage. The courts eventually dismissed the case and exonerated her.

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