Diana Rigg, best known for her starring role as Emma Peel in The Avengers in the 1960s and commanding character Lady Olenna Tyrell in Game Of Thrones, died on Thursday at her home in England. She was 82.
Lionel Larner, her longtime friend and talent agent, told Variety:
“She was a beautiful kind and generous human being that enhanced the lives of all that knew her as well as a great actress. She leaves a great void in my heart.”
Born in 1938 in Doncaster, Yorkshire, England, Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg spent her early childhood in India, completing her formal acting training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art from 1955-57.
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Rigg was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1959-64, and toured Europe and the US in a production of King Lear, and later in a production of Twelfth Night. She also appeared on Broadway three times, starring in Abelard and Heloise in 1971, a revival of The Misanthrope in 1975, and a staging of Medea in 1994. Each time, she was nominated for a Tony Award for best actress, finally winning for her role in Medea.
In 1997, she won an Emmy Award for her portrayal of Mrs. Danvers on the TV adaptation of Rebecca, and was also nominated for lead actress in a special program in 1975 for her work on In This House of Brede, along with supporting actress in a miniseries for Victoria & Albert in 2002.
All that would have been a truly wonderful career for an actor. But two TV roles, five decades apart, turned her into an icon TWICE.
On ITV‘s classic spy show The Avengers she starred as the witty, catsuit-wearing Mrs. Peel in 51 episodes from 1965-68, and was nominated twice for an Emmy Award. (A feature adaptation of the series was made in 1998, starring Uma Thurman as Mrs. Peel and Ralph Fiennes as John Steed, a character portrayed by Patrick Macnee in the series. But the less said about that the better.)
And she was best known in recent years for her fan favorite role on Game Of Thrones. On the acclaimed HBO series, she portrayed the recurring character Olenna Tyrell, also known as the Queen Of Thorns, and was Emmy nominated in 2013, 2014, and 2015 for best guest actress in a drama for her work.
More recently, she appeared in BSkyB and NBC‘s You Me and the Apocalypse in 2016, also guest-starring in BBC/HBO’s Extras in 2006 and Dr. Who in 2013.
Rigg married Israeli painter Menachem Gueffen in 1973, but they divorced three years later. In 1982, she married theatrical producer Archibald Stirling, but they divorced in 1990. Together, they had one daughter, actress Rachael Stirling.
We’re sending our deepest condolences to Diana’s family, friends, and loved ones.
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