Shirley Douglas

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Shirley Douglas
BornShirley Jean Douglas
(1934-04-02) April 2, 1934 (age 80)
Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Canada
OccupationActress, activist
Spouse(s)Donald Sutherland (1966–70)
Timothy Emil Sicks[when?]
ChildrenThomas Emil Sicks, Kiefer Sutherland, and Rachel Sutherland
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Shirley Douglas
BornShirley Jean Douglas
(1934-04-02) April 2, 1934 (age 80)
Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Canada
OccupationActress, activist
Spouse(s)Donald Sutherland (1966–70)
Timothy Emil Sicks[when?]
ChildrenThomas Emil Sicks, Kiefer Sutherland, and Rachel Sutherland

Shirley Jean Douglas, OC (born April 2, 1934) is a Canadian television, film and stage actress and activist. Her acting career combined with her family name has made her recognizable in Canadian film, television and national politics.

Personal life[edit]

Douglas was born in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, the daughter of Irma May (née Dempsey) and Tommy Douglas (1904–86), the late Scottish-born Canadian statesman and Premier of Saskatchewan. She attended high school at Central Collegiate Institute (now closed) in Regina. She is the mother of three children: Thomas Emil Sicks from her first marriage and twins Rachel Sutherland and Kiefer Sutherland from her second marriage to Canadian actor Donald Sutherland (1966–70).

Acting work[edit]

Douglas's acting career began in 1950 with a role in the Regina Little Theatre entry at the Dominion Drama Festival,[1] where she won the best actress award. In 1952 Shirley graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and stayed in England for several years, performing for theatre and television, before returning to Canada in 1957. She is not to be confused with the child actress who appeared in Gone with the Wind, the Wizard of Oz, and Show Boat.

She continues to act; and her career since then has encompassed several memorable roles on stages in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. She has portrayed prominent feminist Nellie McClung, family matriarch and business woman May Bailey in the television series Wind at My Back, Hagar Shipley in Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel, and even characters in popular science fiction series like The Silver Surfer and Flash Gordon.

In 1997, Douglas appeared on stage with her son Kiefer Sutherland at the Royal Alexandra Theatre and at the National Arts Centre in The Glass Menagerie. In 2000, she performed on stage in The Vagina Monologues. In 2006, she portrayed former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in the ABC mini-series The Path to 9/11.

In 2003, for her contributions to the performing arts, she was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.


Douglas moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1967 after marrying actor Donald Sutherland. She became involved in the American Civil Rights Movement, the campaign against the Vietnam War, and later on behalf of immigrants and women.

She helped establish the fundraising group "Friends of the Black Panthers." In 1969, Douglas was arrested in Los Angeles, for Conspiracy to Possess Unregistered Explosives, after she allegedly attempted to purchase hand grenades for the Black Panthers. She claimed that the FBI was trying to frame her and spent five days in jail. Subsequently, the U.S. government denied her a work permit based on this incident. Douglas, by then divorced from Sutherland, was forced to leave the U.S. in 1977. She and her three children moved to Toronto.

As the daughter of Tommy Douglas, who brought Medicare to Canada, she has also been one of Canada's most prominent activists in favour of the publicly funded health care system over privatized care. In the Canadian federal election, 2006, Douglas campaigned on behalf of the federal New Democratic Party. In 2012, she supported Brian Topp for that party's leadership.



1955Joe MacBethPatsy
1962LolitaMrs. Starch
1983Wars, TheThe WarsMrs. Lawson
1988Dead RingersLaura
1988Shadow DancingNicole
1992Passage of the HeartKatherine Ward
1992Shower, TheThe ShowerMarie
1994MesmerDuchess DuBarry
1998Barney's Great AdventureGrandma
2000Woman WantedPeg
2000Law of Enclosures, TheThe Law of EnclosuresMyra
2000Franklin and the Green KnightNarratorVideo


1955Rheingold TheatreMolly GainesEpisode: "The Long White Line"
1978Nellie McClungNellie McClungTV film
1982Hangin' InMrs. RicardoEpisode: "Barnum and Baby"
1985Turning to StoneLenaTV film
1986Loose EndsElder Seth's WifeTV film
1987Really Weird TalesEdna BesleyTV film
1989Alfred Hitchcock PresentsMonica LoganEpisode: "Driving Under the Influence"
1990–1991Street LegalMayor RileyRecurring role (4 episodes)
1992Road to AvonleaMiss CavendishEpisode: "High Society"
1992Hat Squad, TheThe Hat SquadEpisode: "Pilot"
1993Shattered Trust: The Shari Karney StoryVivian KarneyTV film
1995Redwood CurtainSchyler NoyesTV film
1995Johnny's GirlMrs. HardwickTV film
1996Flash Gordon(voice)TV series
1996-2001Wind at My BackMay BaileyMain role (65 episodes)
1998Silver SurferInfectiaTV series
1999Shadow LakeTV film
2000House Divided, AA House DividedElizabeth DicksonTV film
2001Made in CanadaCybill ThornbushEpisode: "Beaver Creek Commercials"
2002Christmas Shoes, TheThe Christmas ShoesEllen LaytonTV film
2005Robson ArmsPauline DuboisRecurring role (4 episodes)
2005Corner GasPegEpisode: "Trees a Crowd"
2006Path to 9/11, TheThe Path to 9/11Madeline AlbrightTV film
2008Degrassi: The Next GenerationProfessor DunwoodyEpisode: "Bust a Move: Part 1"



  1. ^ Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia
  2. ^ "Shirley Douglas 2004 Inductee". Archived from the original on 10 February 2009. 

Further reading[edit]

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