Shirley Douglas is a Canadian actress and activist who is the daughter of politician Tommy Douglas, the first leader of the federal New Democratic Party. Her acting career and the fact that she hails from a political family have earned her popularity in the Canadian entertainment industry as well as national politics. She began her career in 1950 at Regina Little Theatre. Following her graduation from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (London), she stayed in England for many years, performing in theatre and television, before returning to Canada in 1957. In a career spanning over six decades, she has appeared in numerous films, TV shows, and stage productions. In 2003, she was honored with the tile of Officer of the Order of Canada for her contributions to the performing arts. In her personal life, the talented actress is a mother of three: one from her first marriage to a brewery heir and twins from her second marriage to actor Donald Sutherland.
Shirley Douglas started her acting career in 1950 when she performed at the Regina Little Theatre and won the best actress award. In 1955, she made her film debut with a role in the British-American crime film ‘Joe MacBeth’. That year, she also appeared in an episode of the anthology series ‘Rheingold Theatre’. Following a role in the drama flick ‘Lolita’, she starred in the movies ‘The Wars’, ‘Dead Ringers’ and ‘Shadow Dancing’, all of which released during the 1980s.
From 1990 to 1991, the actress played a recurring role in the Canadian crime drama ‘Street Legal’. Soon after the show ended, she starred as Marie in the comedy drama movie ‘The Shower’, a story about a woman whose pregnant sister goes into premature labor during her baby shower.
In 1996, Douglas joined the cast of the series ‘Wind at My Back’ as May Bailey, a role she played until 2001. During this time, she also featured in the musical ‘Barney's Great Adventure’ and narrated the animated series ‘Franklin’. She was then cast as Ellen Layton for the TV film ‘The Christmas Shoes,’ based on the novel of the same name. In the year 2005, Douglas starred as Pauline Dubois in the Canadian television series ‘Robson Arms’. A year later, she appeared as Madeleine Albright in the miniseries ‘The Path to 9/11’, a film that dramatizes the World Trade Center bombing of 1993 and the events leading up to the September 11 attacks. After this, the Canadian actress featured in an episode of the teen drama ‘Degrassi: The Next Generation’ as Professor Dunwoody.
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Following her second marriage, Shirley Douglas moved to Los Angeles. She became associated with the American Civil Rights Movement and later established a fundraising group named ‘Friends of the Black Panthers’. She was arrested in 1969 for Conspiracy to Possess Unregistered Explosives and was subsequently forced to leave USA in 1977.
As the daughter of Canadian statesman Tommy Douglas who brought Medicare to the country, Shirley Douglas has also been one of the country’s most recognized activists in favor of the public health care system over privatized care.
Family & Personal Life
Shirley Douglas was born on April 2, 1934 in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Canada, to Irma May and politician Tommy Douglas. She attended Central Collegiate Institute in Regina and later graduated from Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London.
She first married brewery heir Timothy Emil Sicks. The couple had a son named Thomas before divorcing. Douglas then married actor Donald Sutherland in 1966. They had twins, Kiefer and Rachel, before divorcing in 1970.