Grew up in the town of Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, where he also graduated from high school.
At age 14, his first part-time job was as a news correspondent for local radio station, CKBW.
Attended and graduated from Bridgewater High School in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia.
Was a member of the "UC Follies" comedy troupe in Toronto, Ontario.
Turned down starring in The Sweet Hereafter (1997) because the salary was too low. His role eventually went to Ian Holm.
Has dubbed (uncredited) the role taken by English actor William Devlin in The Shuttered Room (1967).
In addition to an on-screen small role as a computer scientist in Billion Dollar Brain (1967), he also provided the mechanical voice for the eponymous "brain".
Has three sons with Francine Racette: Roeg Sutherland, Rossif Sutherland and Angus Sutherland.
He was featured in the computer game "Conspiracy" (digitised video and sound).
Both Sutherland and Alan Alda, who took up the role of Hawkeye Pierce on M*A*S*H (1972) suffered from polio as children.
Former son-in-law of Tommy Douglas.
In two of his films in 2003, in Cold Mountain (2003) and The Italian Job (2003), he played a character who dies who was the father of a young woman, and both daughters were played by back-to-back winners of the Academy Award for Best Actress. In Cold Mountain (2003) his daughter was portrayed by Nicole Kidman, who won in 2003 for The Hours (2002), and in The Italian Job (2003) his daughter was portrayed by Charlize Theron, who would win in 2004 for her performance in Monster (2003).
Has two children with Shirley Douglas: Kiefer Sutherland and Rachel Sutherland.
Even though he receives top billing in The Day of the Locust (1975), he does not appear in the film for the first 42 minutes.
Has appeared throughout MASH (1970) wearing glasses and a fishing bucket hat. This look was later mirrored by his son, Kiefer Sutherland, in Article 99 (1992).
Has appeared in The Day of the Locust (1975) as a character named Homer Simpson, and then later made a guest appearance on The Simpsons (1989).
Being very tall, Sutherland has long since had a habit of slouching over so he could meet other actors eye to eye.
Two of his sons were named after directors he has worked with: Kiefer Sutherland was named after Warren Kiefer who directed Donald's first film The Castle of the Living Dead (1964), and his second son, Roeg Sutherland was named after Nicolas Roeg, who directed him in Don't Look Now (1973).
He was originally cast as Franklyn Madson in Dead Again (1991), but was eventually replaced by Derek Jacobi.
Has two roles in common with Alan Alda. Sutherland played Flan in Six Degrees of Separation (1993), the role Alda played in an audio-book publication. Sutherland also played Hawkeye Pierce in MASH (1970), the role Alda played on M*A*S*H (1972).
Made two guest appearances on The Saint (1962), playing two different characters.
Was awarded the OC (Officer of the Order of Canada) by the Governor-General of Canada on 18 December 1978 and the degree of Commander of the Order of the Arts and the Letters of France by the President of the Republic of France (unknown date 2012) for his services to Drama.
Had a near-death experience in 1979 when he was sick with meningitis. Doctors told him he had died for a time, and he claims to have had an out-of-body experience.
Grandfather of Sarah Sutherland, daughter of Kiefer Sutherland and Camelia Kath.
Has starred on the television series Commander in Chief (2005) with Leslie Hope. During the first season of 24 (2001), Leslie Hope played the wife of his son, Kiefer Sutherland.
Has played together with his son Kiefer Sutherland in two movies: Max Dugan Returns (1983) and A Time to Kill (1996) where they play enemies.
He and Alan Alda both play Republicans with Presidential aspirations on television. Alda appears on The West Wing (1999), Sutherland appears on Commander in Chief (2005).
Between 1958 and 1960, he went to England and studied acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA).
He and Kiefer Sutherland are both Emmy Award winners. He won in 1996 for Citizen X (1995), and ten years later, Kiefer won for 24 (2001).
His great-grandmother through male line was a third cousin of President Rutherford Birchard Hayes.
Is distantly related to the former Governor of Vermont, Howard Dean.
He was so shocked by his own performance as the sadistic, perverse fascist leader in 1900 (1976), that he was unable to watch the film for years.
Originally wanted to be a sculptor, but decided to be an actor after witnessing people praise a drawing of Churchill that he thought was awful (he realized he could not make art to please other people). He had never attended a theater performance, and still had not when he received his first role. Thus he was behind the proscenium arch before ever having been in front of it.
Prefers to shoot the opening scenes of a movie last in order to better set the tone of the movie to the audience.
Although several sources erroneously report that he and Francine Racette were married in 1974, Sutherland stated in a May 2000 "Daily Mail" article that they did not marry until August 1990. They met in 1974 and lived together for 16 years before getting married.
Achieved cinematic fame in two completely different and contrasting war films. One was the cynical, edgy, sarcastic Korean War comedy MASH (1970), and the other was the gritty, action packed, violent World War II action film The Dirty Dozen (1967).
Is a huge fan of the television series 24 (2001) starring his son Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer and never missed an episode. However, he declined an offer to play Jack Bauer's estranged father, Phillip Bauer, who appeared in the series' sixth season, and the role instead went to James Cromwell.
Lives in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California.
His son, Kiefer Sutherland, appeared in Stand by Me (1986), based on a short story by Stephen King. Donald later appeared in Salem's Lot (2004). Donald has himself appeared in two Michael Crichton adaptations: The Great Train Robbery (1978) and Disclosure (1994), while is other son Rossif Sutherland appears in Timeline (2003).
Was offered the role of Wyatt Earp in Doctor Who (1963): The Gunfighters but was not free so John Alderson took the role.
Partook in the opening ceremony of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver as the voice-over narrator describing the history of Canada and was also one of the flag bearers of the Olympic flag.
In the "making of" documentary for The Dirty Dozen (1967) Special Edition DVD, Sutherland says the was one of the "last dozen", meaning he was not going to have many lines. However when they were preparing to film the scene where Major Reisman (Lee Marvin) had to convince Colonel Breed (Robert Ryan) that a general was among them, it was supposed to be Posey (Clint Walker). However, Walker refused to do the scene so director Robert Aldrich picked Sutherland to do the scene. After that, Sutherland's role was expanded rather more. The Dirty Dozen (1967) is credited with helping Sutherland get more attention from filmmakers, thus launching his career. According to Sutherland, sometime later, Aldrich asked him to be in another movie but Sutherland declined. He says in the documentary that turning down Aldrich was one of his greatest regrets as an actor as he felt he owed Aldrich for helping to launch his career.
Received his double major in Engineering and Drama from the University of Toronto. He had originally intended to become an engineer before trying acting.
He and his son Kiefer Sutherland have both played artist Paul Gauguin.
He was awarded a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto, Ontario in 2000.
Has rarely worked more than once with the same film director, which is something quite uncommon for an actor with a long career. The only exceptions he made (so far) are appearing in four films directed by Christian Duguay, two films by Nicolas Roeg, two films by Robert Towne, two films by Hugh Hudson and three films by Francis Lawrence.
As of 2014, has appeared in three films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: MASH (1970), Ordinary People (1980) and JFK (1991). Ordinary People (1980) won in the category.
When polled by the American Film Institute, Sutherland chose Great Expectations (1946) as his favorite film.
Has been in four movies where aliens took over human beings: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), The Puppet Masters (1994), Virus (1999), and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001). In Virus (1999), they made human-robot hybrids. In the Final Fantasy movie, they were spirits from another planet that took over and killed the humans.
Has played a grieving father in both Don't Look Now (1973) and Ordinary People (1980).
He replaced Richard Harris as the IRA terrorist Liam Devlin in The Eagle Has Landed (1976) after it was discovered that Harris had attended a fundraiser for the Provisional IRA in the United States.
Has worked with eight directors who have won a Best Director Oscar: John Schlesinger, Bernardo Bertolucci, Robert Redford, Ron Howard, Oliver Stone, Barry Levinson, Clint Eastwood and Anthony Minghella.
Member of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 69th Cannes International Film Festival in 2016.
He was an ardent fan of the Montreal Expos baseball team ever since it was founded. In the beginning of the 1983 season, when it looked like the team would finally be good enough to win the National League title, he ordered his agent not to accept any offers during the season, so that he could follow the team without distractions, even to the point of attending all of their games on their road trips. (The Expos failed to meet expectations and finished third).
He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7024 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on January 26, 2011.
Has English, German and Scottish ancestry.
Was considered for the role of Dr. Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
Twice, he has played a father grieving over a young son of his drowning: first, in Ordinary People (1980) second, in Forsaken (2015).
Dated Jane Fonda from 1970 to 1972.
Despite he and his son Kiefer Sutherland bot having prolific careers, they never worked together until the film Forsaken (2015), in which they play father and son.
Of Clan Sutherland.
He was awarded the C.C. (Companion of the Order of Canada) on November 18, 2019 by the Canadian Governor General. He lives in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. The engraving on his honorary Academy Award reads: "For a lifetime of indelible characters, rendered with unwavering truthfulness." From Norman Bethune and Fellini's Casanova, to the CBC's Pirate's Passage, he has been a Canadian presence worldwide for six decades, whose talent and magnetic charisma have made him a shining ambassador and promoter of Canada. When U.S. border patrol agents look at his Canadian passport and ask him why he's never become an American citizen, his smiling reply has always been: "You don't have the same sense of humor.".
Attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts.