Actresses Douglas, Bosworth charted own paths

TORONTO/NEW YORK • Canadian actress and civil-rights activist Shirley Douglas died on Sunday at the age of 86, said her son, actor Kiefer Sutherland.

Douglas died following a bout of pneumonia, Sutherland wrote on Twitter, specifying that it was not related to the coronavirus pandemic.

"My mother was an extraordinary woman who led an extraordinary life," wrote Sutherland, best known as agent Jack Bauer in the television thriller 24 (2001 to 2014). "Sadly, she had been battling for her health for quite some time and we, as a family, knew this day was coming."

Douglas spent her acting career between Canada and Hollywood, where she worked with big-name directors such as Stanley Kubrick and David Cronenberg.

She is also known for campaigning for several progressive causes, including the civil-rights movement and the Black Panthers in the 1960s and later defending Canada's public healthcare system.

Douglas had three children, two of them - including Kiefer - with Canada-born Hollywood actor Donald Sutherland. She was the daughter of Mr Tommy Douglas, founder of Canada's medicare system and a one-time prime minister of the western Canadian province of Saskatchewan.

In the United States, author and former actress Patricia Bosworth, who gave up acting for the writing life, turning her knowledge of the theatre into a series of biographies and mining her own extraordinary life for a pair of powerful memoirs, died last Thursday in Manhattan. She was 86.

Her stepdaughter Fia Hatsav said the cause was complications of pneumonia brought on by the coronavirus.

Bosworth had some success as an actress. She was admitted to the Actors Studio in its glory days, learning method acting alongside actor Marlon Brando and actress Marilyn Monroe. She won some important roles onstage and appeared alongside actress Audrey Hepburn on film.

But she always wanted to write and she found material in the many friendships she had cultivated with luminaries in Hollywood, the theatre world and elsewhere - Brando, actor Montgomery Clift and photographer Diane Arbus, among them.

She became a successful journalist as well, as an editor and writer for several publications. She was a contributing editor at Vanity Fair magazine for many years.

Bosworth's best subject, and the one that underlay most of her work, was her own eventful life.

She explored it in Anything Your Little Heart Desires: An American Family Story (1997), which centres on her charismatic father, a lawyer who defended two of the Hollywood Ten in the postwar anti-communist hysteria and saw his career destroyed by the blacklist; and The Men In My Life: A Memoir Of Love And Art In 1950s Manhattan (2017), about her coming-of-age and emergence as a writer.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2020, with the headline 'Actresses Douglas, Bosworth charted own paths'. Print Edition | Subscribe