Happy Birthday Donald Sutherland: Celebrating the ‘M*A*S*H’ Actors Best Moments

by Suzanne Halliburton

Please, no negative waves. This is a Donald Sutherland party. You don’t turn 86 every day. This deserves a trip going back more than a half-century to highlight his fabulous career.

So let’s make our first stop in 1970. The always eccentric Donald Sutherland had his first good part — he was in the cast of The Dirty Dozen-– in 1967. But in 1970, Sutherland hit it big in a couple of memorable war movies.

You probably remember the TV show, M*A*S*H, right? It actually was a movie first. And Sutherland played Dr. Benjamin “Hawkeye” Pierce in the comedy/drama about life in a medical unit during the Korean War. Hawkeye a part of our pop culture thanks to the TV show.

Then there was Kelly’s Heroes, starring tough guys Clint Eastwood and Telly Savalas. Eastwood led a rogue band of American soldiers in World War II. They figured out the Germans had stashed $16 million in gold bars in a small, French village and were going to pull off the off-the-war-books heist.

Donald Sutherland was a tank specialist named Oddball. He was constantly telling everyone to quit with the negative waves. By movie’s end, Oddball traded his share of the gold for a German Tiger tank.

Here’s a glimpse of a key scene in the movie:

Donald Sutherland Regrets His Animal House Contract

Donald Sutherland ended the 1970s with a small part in the iconic comedy, Animal House. It may be one of his biggest regrets. Yes, we’re bringing up negative waves. But here’s what happened. Sutherland was offered a one-time check or two-percent of the movie’s revenue. He took the check, never dreaming that Animal House would become one of the most popular comedies ever, pulling in more than $141 million at the box office.

“Do you know what would 2% roughly have translated into?” Donald Sutherland joked during an appearance on the Opie and Andy radio show. “I don’t want to know.”

Trust us, Sutherland can do comedy and drama with ease. In 1980, he portrayed Mary Tyler Moore’s husband in Ordinary People. That movie was about a family dealing with the death of a child.

Sutherland, who was born in Canada, could play any role, from an astronaut or spy to a Civil War general or an evil prison warden.

He’s a true character actor who is considered one of the best ever to have not received an Academy Award nomination. But he did win other prestigious honors. In 1995, Sutherland won an Emmy and Golden Globe for his work in the TV movie Citizen X. Donald Sutherland collected another Golden Globe award in 2002 for best supporting actor in Path to War. Within a decade, Sutherland earned a well-deserved star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In 2012, Donald Sutherland found an entirely new audience when he portrayed President Snow in the Hunger Games. The movie franchise made more than $1.45 billion.

Sutherland also is the father of another fabulous actor, son Kiefer Sutherland. He’s best known as Jack Bauer from 24.

So happy birthday, Donald Sutherland!

(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)