Jörn Donner: Oscar winner, cultural giant, diplomat and politician dies age 86

File picture of Jörn Donner / Credit: Jörn Donner FB

Finnish film producer, director and actor; acclaimed author; long-time politician and one-time diplomat Jörn Donner has died age 86.

His wife said he passed away on Thursday at a Helsinki hospital surrounded by family members. He had been suffering from prostate and lung cancer.

The Swedish-speaking Finn published dozens of books in his lifetime starting in the early 1950s, until last year; and won the Finlandia Prize in 1985 for his book ‘Father and Son’. His 1000-page autobiography was published in 2013.

Donner gained notoriety during the 1960s for directing and acting in provocative films featuring nudity. He became the first and only Finn to win an Academy Award in 1984 for producing Ingmar Bergman‘s ‘Fanny and Alexander’ which won four Oscars including the best foreign language film award.

His political career spanned several changes of government in Finland, and he was a member of both the Social Democrats and the Swedish People’s Party at different times. Donner was a Member of Parliament for 14 years, and also spent three years as an MEP in Brussels. For a stint in the 1990s he was Finland’s Consul General in Los Angeles.

Donner was married three times, and had six children with his wives and another partner.

He would have celebrated his 87th birthday on 5th February, a day he shares with Finland’s national poet JL Runeberg.