‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Avengers’ Star Was 82

Diana Rigg, Emmy and Tony Award-winning British actress who rose to international fame in the 1960s for her role as glamorous spy Emma Peel The Avengersthen landed a new role decades later as the cunning Lady Olenna Tyrell on Game of Thrones, died on Thursday. She is 82 years old.

Rigg was diagnosed with cancer in March, according to her daughter Rachael Stirling, who said she had “experienced her final months joyfully reflecting on her extraordinary life, full of it. love, laughter and deep pride in his profession. I will miss her beyond words.”

“We are deeply saddened to announce that Dame Diana Rigg passed away peacefully early this morning. She is at home with her family, who have asked for privacy at this difficult time,” her agent Simon Beresford added. “Dame Diana is an icon of stage, film and television. She has received BAFTA, Emmy, Tony and Evening Standard awards for her work on stage and screen. Dame Diana is a much-loved and admired member of her profession, someone who by nature loves her work and her co-stars. She will be very missed.”

Rigg also played the ill-fated Bond girl Tracy di Vicenzo opposite 007 actor George Lazenby in About His Majesty’s Secret Service (1969).

As the third of four supporting women with Patrick Macnee’s John Steed, on ITV’s The AvengersRigg’s Peel has become an icon in the UK and US. The show focuses on a duo – Horse with a melon hat and umbrella, Peel in cutting-edge mod fashion – working as partners for a secret British intelligence agency. , sometimes England is surrealist.

“She was ahead of her time,” Rigg said at a ceremony to celebrate her character’s 50th anniversary organized by the British Film Institute. “It was so coincidental that she became this pioneer woman, and God, I am so lucky to have the opportunity to play this woman. Over the years, people would come to me and say, ‘You’re my heroine’ – not me, Emma – ‘and encourage me to do this and that.’ Without highlighting her influence, I think she is a very, very influential person in terms of women asserting their place in the world. “

At the height of her popularity, Rigg was voted “the sexiest TV star ever” TV User Manual, though she never accepted it. “I have to be honest, it makes me uncomfortable because I’ve never felt sexy,” she told the BBC in 2011. “I don’t see it as a feminist issue, I see it as if it were a feminist issue. , if you like, I’ve probably fallen short on that aspect since I can’t provide. I do sexy pictures because it’s asked of me, but I’ve never done ‘sexy’ in person. “

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She played Peel in 51 episodes from 1965-68, earning two Emmy Award nominations, then returned to her roots in theater for a time. She shared a special BAFTA award for The Avengers with her co-stars Honor Blackman (Cathy Gale), Linda Thorson (Tara King) and Joanna Lumley (Purdey on The New Avengers) In 2011.

Rigg got another chance to work on a series that defined fervor when she joined HBO’s Game of Thrones in 2013 as Lady Olenna, the “Queen of Thorns” known for her palace scheming. She has been nominated for four Emmy Awards for her work on the show.

“She is very strong,” said Rigg The Hollywood Reporter of her character. “She doesn’t restrict her words, she’s witty, she’s always fun to play. She doesn’t think too highly of [the men in her family] – the fact that men in general. She thinks the world would be a better place if it was run by women.”

Rigg won her Tony Award in 1994 for starring in Medeaand she has been nominated three other times: for Abelard and Heloise and Misanthrope in 1971 and ’75 respectively, and her turn as Mrs. Higgins in the 2018 Broadway revival of My beautiful girl.

In 1997, she received her only Emmy for her performance as the villainous housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, in the PBS adaptation of Daphne du Maurier. Rebecca.

Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg was born on 20 July 1938 in Doncaster, England. Her family lives in Jodhpur, India, where her father served as a state railway manager. She spent her childhood in India until the age of 8, when she was sent to a boarding school in England.

“India gave me a glorious start in life,” Rigg said in her 2004 biography by Kathleen Tracy. “It gave me an independent spirit.” But the transition to bleak Britain was difficult: “Schools aren’t meant to be cruel, but they are. I feel like a fish out of the water. I don’t know anyone. I started over from scratch. … With an experience like that, your life changes. You must never rely on your parents again.”

After a few years, Rigg’s parents followed her back to England and transferred her to another school. There, a teacher, Sylvia Greenwood, “realized that I loved literature and words and found that I could speak and – well, act! Not only did she encourage me, she cheered me on, took me out. I have begun to live. “

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Rigg studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and made his professional debut in 1957 in New York with a performance at Caucasian chalk circle. She also played in office companies while working as a model.

Rigg was accepted by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1959 and soon signed a five-year contract. She left in 1964 for The Avengers, is also about to be broadcast – in color! – in America on ABC. This is her first commercial television work and she has never seen the show.

She effectively took over for Blackman, who left to take on the role of Pussy Galore in the 1964 James Bond film. Golden Fingers. (Julie Stevens played Sneed’s partner Venus Smith for six episodes in 1962-1963 before Rigg debuted as Emma Peel, a play on “M-Appeal,” a marketing term meaning ” male attractiveness).

“She was special,” Macnee recalled in 2005. “She shone at us like a butterfly on a flower.”

“I was very lucky and also very stupid, because I have absolutely no idea when I will receive it The Avengers What impact will it have on my life,” she said in 2011. “I don’t watch much television. When I took the job, it was a giant leap in the dark.” Although she was criticized by colleagues at the Royal Shakespeare Company for the decision, she added, “It’s really great.”

After two full seasons, Rigg exits The Avengers – Partly because of the strict production schedule, partly to pursue other projects, she said. “First thing I do when I stop working The Avengers is to go back to Royal Shakespeare and say, ‘Thank you. Now I can sell tickets, which I couldn’t before. And that’s how I acknowledge where I was raised,” she said.

Shortly after leaving, she played Helena in a movie version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1968) with Helen Mirren as Hermia, Ian Holm as Puck, Judi Dench as Titania and several other Royal Shakespeare Company players.

She got her first movie role in America in a comedy Assassination Bureau (1969), based on an unfinished novel by Jack London set in Edwardian England, and became James Bond’s glamorous wife in About His Majesty’s Secret Service (1969).

The 007 movie is “too sinister – money is not the object,” she said People magazine 2017. “There was a 10-second period when I looked at my watch. And they sent a watchmaker with a box full of watches. I just picked one, and they gave it to me. I also have a very nice fox fur coat that I wore in the movie, and they gave it to me! I love it.”

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Rigg was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for her role as a nurse in Paddy Chayefsky’s comedy. Hospital (In 1971). She then played a department store fashion coordinator who moved to New York after a divorce on the short-lived 1973-74 NBC sitcom. DianaThe following model Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Her other notable projects include the 1975 CBS feature film In this Nurturing Housein which she played a businesswoman turned Benedictine nun, for another Emmy Award nomination; The Great Muppet Caper (1991), in which she played the victim of a jewelry theft; miniseries Masterpiece Theater 1985 Bleak House, in which she played Lady Honoria Dedlock; PBS’ Mystery masterpiece!, which she hosted from 1989-2004, taking over from Vincent Price; and BBC radio Mrs. Bradley’s Mysteriesin which she played amateur detective Adela Bradley from 1998-2000.

In 1983, she wrote No turning tracesa compendium of terrible reviews by critics from actors, directors and playwrights, inspired by a barbaric theatrical performance of her in Abelard and Heloise.

In 1994, she was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire for her contributions to film and theatre, and from 1998-2008 she was rector of the University of Stirling in Scotland.

Rigg was married in the 1970s to Israeli painter Menachem Gueffen and later stage producer Archie Stirling, with whom she has a daughter, Rachael. Both marriages ended in divorce.

Rachael Stirling also became an actress (Snow White and the Hunter), and Rigg played her mother in a 2005 episode of Which doctor? and again from 2015-17 on six episodes of Acorn’s Discoverer.

“We just kept laughing,” said Rigg, performing with his daughter. “I have to say, people are very serious about their work. And it To be seriously, it’s very, very serious because it’s a communion between you, the audience, and us, the actors – but at the same time one of my real needs is to have fun, laugh and enjoy it. “

Duane Byrge contributed to this report.

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