Actor Diana Rigg, best known for starring within the 1960s British TV espionage thriller The Avengers, died on Thursday at the age of 82 in London. consistent with a press release from her daughter Rachael Stirling, she was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year.
“My Beloved Ma died peacefully in her sleep early this morning, at home, surrounded by family,” Stirling wrote. “She died of cancer diagnosed in March, and spent her last months joyfully reflecting on her extraordinary life, filled with love, laughter, and deep pride in her profession.”
In The Avengers, Rigg played Emma Peel with a particularly dangerous flair that contrasted together with her buttoned-up partner, John Steed, played by Patrick Macnee. More recently, she earned four Emmy nominations for her portrayal of Olenna Tyrell within the HBO show Game of Thrones.
Rigg was originally a stage actor who worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company. She told NPR during a 1991 interview that she loved seeing the faces of the audience when acting.
“They’re my inspiration. I absolutely love it,” she said. “Obviously, sometimes they are not when they’re scratching themselves or falling asleep, but largely, I feel you cannot beat a live audience.”
Diana Rigg: movies and tv shows, Avengers
Her on-screen credits were many and varied. She played the sole woman to urge Bond to the altar in 1969’s. On Her Majesty’s the United States Secret Service. She took on the role of Lady Holiday within the Great Muppet Caper specifically for her daughter Rachael. (“If you’re an artist, you draw pictures for your children. If you are a writer, you write the odd little story for them. You’ll read bedtime stories brilliantly If you’re an actress. As far as she was concerned, it had been the simplest thing that ever happened, to ascertain her mother … with Miss Piggy.” She said within the interview.) And she or he won an Emmy for her role as Mrs. Danvers on the PBS Masterpiece miniseries Rebecca.
But as her film and tv roles grew, she always returned to stage.
“Diana Rigg’s combination of force of personality, beauty, courage and sheer emotional power, made her an excellent classical actress,” director Jonathan Kent said. “Her dazzling wit which inimitable voice made her an unforgettable leading figure in British theater.”
And during a statement Rigg’s agent provided to NPR, playwright David Hare wrote this:
“Diana Rigg had a stunning change of direction in a time of life as an excellent classical actor. When Emma Peel played Euripides’ Medea, Albee’s Martha, and Brecht’s Mother Courage she swept all before her.”