English actress Diana Rigg has died at the age of 82, her representatives have confirmed.
A celebrated and award-winning performer on stage and screen, Rigg was known for her TV roles in The Avengers and Game Of Thrones, and in film as Tracy Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Her theater work included a 1992 production of Greek tragedy Medea, for which she won a Tony in the title role, and a 1987 staging of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Follies.
“Diana Rigg died peacefully early this morning. She was at home with her family who have asked for privacy at this difficult time. Diana was a much loved and admired member of her profession, a force of nature who loved her work and her fellow actors. She will be greatly missed,” her agent Simon Beresford said.
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“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,” added Rigg’s daughter Rachael Stirling.
Born in Doncaster in 1938, Rigg grew up for a brief period in India before returning to the UK to attend boarding school. She enrolled in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1955, where her classmates included Glenda Jackson. After a stint with the Royal Shakespeare Company, she achieved stage fame with her role in the Ronald Millar play Abelard and Heloïse, for which she earned the first of three Tony nominations.
Her TV break came in the 1960s spy series The Avengers, in which she played secret agent Emma Peel for 51 episodes, becoming something of a style icon and sex symbol in England. Staying in the genre, in 1969 she was cast in the sixth Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, starring opposite George Lazenby, his one and only appearance in the franchise. Rigg’s character, Tracy Bond, is still to this day the only one to have wed the Brit secret agent, though she meets a tragic fate in the film.
More recently, she portrayed Olenna Tyrell in Game Of Thrones (“Tell Cersei, I want her to know it was me”), and appeared in ITV’s Victoria and Channel 5’s All Creatures Great And Small, which began airing this month. Her films roles also included 2006 romantic drama The Painted Veil and Andy Serkis’ 2017 romance Breathe.
Rigg also played a role in Edgar Wright’s upcoming feature Last Night In Soho, which is scheduled for release on April 23, 2021. Posting on Twitter, Wright said it was “beyond a thrill to work with her on her final film”.
Rigg was a regular recipient of award nominations for her work both on stage and on screen. In 1994 she won the Best Actress in a Play Tony for Medea, while she was Golden Globe nominated for The Hospital in 1972, won an Emmy for Rebecca in 1997, a BAFTA TV award in 1990, and received several Olivier nominations.
She was married twice, to the Israeli painter Menachem Gueffen from 1973-1976, and to theater producer Archibald Stirling 1982-1990. With the latter she had a daughter, Rachael Stirling, the two-time Olivier Award nominated actress.