The gesture by the Society Of London Theatre took place at 7pm and lasted for a minute as the venues – many of which have welcomed him to their stages – turned down the lights on their exterior canopies.
Sir Donald made his name on stage as a Shakespearean actor and also had more than 70 credits for film and TV productions. He had been battling prostate cancer and died at home in Romney Marsh, Kent.
His son, actor and film director Marc Sinden, said: “My father has finished dying. He suffered for a few years from prostate cancer which slowly spread. Even though his death was expected, it is still a huge loss to his family and we, his brother, his son, his four grandchildren and great-grandchild will all miss his humour and knowledge.”
Sir Roger Moore was among those who paid tribute, calling him “a wonderful actor”. The former James Bond spoke warmly about the star, with whom he appeared in the 1975 film That Lucky Touch, just hours after the death of another co-star, Richard Kiel, who played villain Jaws.
Sir Roger said: “Sad to wake up to news another mate has left us. Awful week.”
Sir Donald made his film debut in 1953 with The Cruel Sea, going on to perform with the Royal Shakespeare Company in leading roles such as King Lear and Malvolio in Twelfth Night. He was granted a knighthood in 1997 for his services to drama.