"She's An Extraordinary Human": Donald Sutherland Gushes About Francine Racette, His Wife Of 46 Years

November 23, 2018

Donald Sutherland is one of the most prolific Canadian actors. In a career spanning more than five decades, the 83-year-old actor has appeared in more than 200 movies and TV shows and he doesn’t plan to stop.

© The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (2014) / Lionsgate

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Sutherland’s most notable roles include Hawkeye in M*A*S*H; Vernon Pinkley in The Dirty Dozen, which was his big break; and President Snow in The Hunger Games saga, for which the younger generation knows him best.

His role in the Canadian western Alien Thunder probably isn’t what he’s best known for, but it was on the set of that movie that the best thing in his life happened: he met his future wife, actress Francine Racette.


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“She’s an extraordinary human”

Sutherland and Racette fell in love and tied the knot in 1972. They have three sons together: Rossif, Angus Redford, and Roeg, all named after three famed directors Sutherland worked with.

The two have been together for more than half their lives, and their union is still going strong. This year, they celebrated their 46th anniversary and the spark between them is still alive.


The 83-year-old actor always speaks very fondly of his wife. The Guardian’s Carole Cadwalladr asked him if it was luck that he married the right woman and he replied:

It's not something that you can communicate. She's an extraordinary human.

He went on to say that she was very much sought-after:

She was courted by intellectuals. Jean-Paul Sartre? She was his actress. She was Frédéric Rossif's muse.

To describe what keeps that sparkle alive in their marriage, the actor quoted Joanne Woodward, Paul Newman’s wife:

I think it's like Joanne Woodward said, 'Beauty goes and sex goes, but my husband makes me laugh every single day.' And so does my wife. We laugh all the time.


Racette is the one and only, but she wasn’t his first love

Sutherland was incredibly lucky to meet Racette and build a lasting relationship with her. He is her first husband, and she is his third wife.

Long before he met her, there was his marriage to Lois Hardwick. He divorced Hardwick and married Shirley Douglas, Tommy Douglas’ daughter. They had two children together, twins Rachel and Kiefer (who became an actor, like his dad). Sutherland’s marriage with Douglas didn’t last. They were married for four years, from 1966 to 1970.


The actor also had a brief relationship with Jane Fonda. He was heartbroken when they split up. He told Carole Cadwalladr:

We got together shortly before we made 'Klute' and then we were together until the relationship exploded and fell apart in Tokyo. And it broke my heart. I was eviscerated. I was so sad. It was a wonderful relationship right up to the point we lived together.

© Klute (1971) / Warner Bros.

Shortly after the breakup, Sutherland met Racette, who became the love of his life. What luck it was for him to meet her!

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