The Inimitable Shirley Douglas

This Saturday Shirley Douglas will be presented with the 2013 ACTRA Toronto Award of Excellence; a much deserved jewel in the career of one of Canada’s most talented and respected performers.

Shirley Douglas as May Bailey

Shirley Douglas as May Bailey

Wind at My Back fans will know Shirley Douglas as May Bailey, the strict and stoic matriarch of the Bailey clan but that is just one role in her long, diverse career. Shirley has performed on stage and screen in England, the U.S. and Canada portraying a wide range of characters from Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf to Madeline Albright in The Path to 9/11. Before taking the role of May Bailey, Shirley also made a guest appearance in the Road to Avonlea episode High Society.

Shirley’s illustrious acting career has garnered her numerous awards including a Gemini and the 2009 Women in Television and Film Crystal Award. In 2004 she was honoured with a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame in Toronto alongside other notable Canadian performers such as Jim Carrey, Dan Ackroyd and Celine Dion.

Besides being a brilliant actor, Shirley is also the daughter of famous Canadian politician Tommy Douglas who is considered the father of Canadian Medicare and was the first leader of the New Democratic Party.  Shirley has followed in her father’s political footsteps and is an active member and promoter of the NDP. The combination of her tireless contribution to the arts and her ongoing commitment to ensuring all Canadians have access to quality healthcare led to her becoming an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2003.

Shirley has continued her family’s uniquely talented lineage with her three children, Thomas Douglas and Rachel and Kiefer Sutherland who have all become stars in their own right.

Shirley Douglas is truly a Canadian treasure and it was an honour and a pleasure working with her on Wind at my Back. She is a consummate professional and she played the role of May Bailey to perfection. This clip from My Dog Pal is one of my favorite Shirley Douglas performances:
Thankfully, Shirley Douglas continues to be both an actor and an activist and there are sure to be more awards in store for this inimitable Canadian icon.


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