British actress and cult hero of 1960’s Tv show, The Avengers Diana Dame Rigg died on Thursday. She was also famous for her role in Bond and Game of Thrones.
The actress daughter Rachel Stirling released a statement saying “My Beloved Ma died peacefully in her sleep early this morning, at home, surrounded by family, She died of cancer diagnosed in March, and spent her last months joyfully reflecting on her extraordinary life, full of love, laughter and a deep pride in her profession. I will miss her beyond words”.
Rigg made her professional stage debut in 1957 in The Caucasian Chalk Circle, and joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1959. Although she appeared in a range of shows it was her role in The Avengers that shot her to prominence.
Playing Emma Peel, the sexy and intelligent sidekick of suave secret agent John Steed, played by Patrick Macnee, in the British cult series made her an instant pin-up.
But the auburn-haired, snub-nosed and outspoken Rigg said later she did not enjoy her time as a glamour girl. And she walked out of “The Avengers” in 1967, after two seasons, because she was paid less than a cameraman.
“I found it such an intrusion, to be a sex symbol,” she told a British university audience in 2016.
She was soon afterwards cast on the big screen to play the first and only woman ever to marry James Bond, Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo, in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” in 1969.
In 1994 she won the theatre industry’s top award, a Tony, for best actress in a play for the title role in Greek tragedy “Medea”, which she performed in London and New York.
She continued to woo television audiences in her later years.In 1997 Rigg won an Emmy Award for playing the spooky housekeeper, Mrs Danvers, in an adaptation of “Rebecca”.And in 2013, at the age of 75, she became a hit with a new young audience when she was chosen to be the conniving Lady Olenna Tyrell, or the Queen of Thorns, in the HBO fantasy smash “Game of Thrones”.”I’m thrilled young people identify with this naughty old bag I was playing,” she told CBS in 2018.
Made a dame in 1994 for her services to drama, she was named professor of theatre studies at Oxford University in 1998.She was most recently seen on British television screens in “All Creatures Great and Small”, a series about the life of a vet.
She was married and divorced twice, to Israeli artist Menachem Gueffen and to theatre producer and millionnaire Archie Stirling, with whom she had a daughter.