It’s a mild debate as to whether it’s harder to lose a legend in show business than to watch them fade away, but there are times when both can be equally detrimental to the fans and to those closest to said legends. Shirley Douglas is a name that might be very well known to those of her generation and those that have grown up hearing her name. Dino-Ray Ramos of Deadline has more to say on this topic. One might also be knowledgeable enough to recognize that she’s the mother of the famous actor Kiefer Sutherland, as she was married to his father Donald Sutherland for a short while. Digging deeper into her life a person could find out much, much more that they might not have known by just glancing at the surface since she was obviously very passionate person when it came to the ideals she stood for and the causes she championed. This was a woman that stood for many things in her life and someone that made no apologies for how she lived. That such individuals should pass on due to complications from an illness such as pneumonia doesn’t always sound fitting as such people often feel deserving of some other end that might be considered much more poetic, but unfortunately this is how life works sometimes. Douglas had already been confined to a wheelchair in 2009 from a degenerative and very painful spinal condition, and hard as it is to say the words, it might be best to think that her passing was an end to the pain and therefore a regrettable but also welcome release in some sense. The woman spent a great portion of her life trying to help and entertain others, it’s easy to think that she was due at this point.
Her career actually started back in 1950 when she won an award for best actress at a film festival. From that point on it was likely that she didn’t see any other way forward since she went on to star on stage and in TV and eventually in movies as well for many a year. At some point she obviously had to slow down and take it easy, particularly around 2009 if not well before, but her name and her reputation kept her moving forward as by that time she’d found herself in a spot of trouble with the law and forced to head back to Canada in the 70s. One could say that she wasn’t the type to be bossed around that often, though when going up against the US government, many people have been forced to back down a time or two in the interest of national security, especially when being charged with possession of unregistered explosives, as happened in her case. The word was that she was attempting to purchase grenades for the Black Panther party, which she denied by saying that the FBI was trying to frame her. Douglas ended up spending five days in jail before heading to Toronto with her family, where one can easily assume that she was anything but silent and continued to push forward in her own way. There’s nothing to say that this woman was in any way weak-willed or weak-minded, as she fought for what she believed in quite ferociously at times.
Marianne Garvey of CNN reported that Kiefer Sutherland, upon announcing the passing of his mother, was firm when stating that Douglas’s passing was not due to COVID-19, which at this point might or might not be relevant since while Douglas was well within the age group that is being heavily affected by the virus, she had been ailing for years before the virus came along, and as many who have watched their loved ones linger, it was likely a matter of time, not which ailment would be the final stroke. Watching our loved ones suffer for any length of time is never easy as many upon many people know, and when the end does come it offers relief for many as it spells the end of suffering and the cessation of the pain that they have endured for so long. It’s not meant to be easy, and such a passing is bound to effect everyone in their own way, but it is also a gift to have known such people in our lives. There were likely many people who did not agree with Shirley’s actions in life and perhaps thought that she was yet another actor that stood on the wrong side of history, but telling her as much would have likely been met with either understanding that people follow their own path and that not every word and movement is meant to be understood, or the fierce determination she became known for so long ago. In any case, those that knew her best are likely those that will remember who she was and what she stood for. Rest in peace ma’am.