Acting legend Dame Diana Rigg dies at age 82
LONDON — Diana Rigg, a British actress who became a 1960s style icon as secret agent Emma Peel in the TV series “The Avengers,” died Thursday of cancer at the age of 82.
Rigg’s agent Simon Beresford said she died Thursday morning at home with her family. Her daughter, Rachael Stirling, said she was diagnosed with cancer in March.
Rigg starred in “The Avengers” alongside Patrick McNee’s bowler-hatted John Steed. The pair were an impeccably dressed duo who fought villains and traded quips in a show whose mix of adventure and humor was enduringly influential.
In 1969, Rigg also had a major role in the sixth installment of the James Bond franchise, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” She played Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo or Tracy Bond, who married 007. Riggs starred alongside George Lazenby, who played the titular Bond.
British actress Dame Diana Rigg has died at age 82. (Photo: Jamie McCarthy, Getty Images)
The actress won an Emmy in 1997 for her part as Mrs. Danvers in “Rebecca,” a British miniseries.
She went on to have a recurring role as Olenna Tyrell (Queen of Thorns) in HBO’s “Game of Thrones” from 2013 to 2017 and she was nominated four times for an Emmy for outstanding guest actress in a drama series.
Following her role on the long-running HBO series, she went on to join the second season of PBS’ “Victoria,” playing the Duchess of Buccleuch, the court’s Mistress of the Robes, who had a sharp wit and biting dialogue, not unlike her fan-favorite “Game of Thrones” character.
In 2018, Rigg returned to theater when she played Mrs. Higgins in “My Fair Lady” and was nominated for a Tony Award. She won a Tony in 1994 for “Medea”
Co-stars and friends took to social media Thursday to pay tribute to Riggs.
“Game of Thrones” actor, Pedro Pascal, shared a black-and-white photo of Riggs and called her the “true queen of Westeros,” a fictional continent in the fantasy series where Rigg’s character resided.
Actress Dana Delany shared two photos of a young Riggs and wrote a touching message about the actress.
“For a girl in the 1960’s, Diana Rigg was the embodiment of power and allure. To see her on stage in Medea 30 years later was sheer terror,” Delany wrote. “And the icing was Game of Thrones. She outplayed them all. A great grand actor.”
The James Bond franchise’s official Twitter page also sent condolences.
“We are very sad to hear of the passing of Dame Diana Rigg, the legendary stage and screen actress who was much beloved by Bond fans for her memorable performance as Tracy di Vicenzo in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the only woman to have married James Bond,” the tweet read.
The “Game of Thrones” Twitter page wrote: “Be a dragon. The realm will always remember Diana Rigg.”
Mark Gatiss, who starred in “All About My Mother” alongside Rigg, wrote that it was a “great joy and privilege to have known Diana Rigg.”
“From three slightly hysterical months at the Old Vic in ‘All About Mother’ to writing The Crimson Horror for Diana and her wonderful daughter Rachael. Flinty, fearless, fabulous. There will never be another,” Gatiss wrote.
PBS also issued a statement on Rigg’s passing.
“She was an integral member of the MASTERPIECE family, including 15 years as the host of MYSTERY!, where her elegant introductions made an indelible impression on U.S. audiences,” the statement read. “She won an Emmy for her performance in Rebecca, dazzled audiences in Mother Love, Bleak House and in her recent star turn in Victoria. In January, audiences will see her in All Creatures Great and Small in the role of the eccentric Mrs. Pumphrey. A grande dame of British drama, Diana was one of a kind and we will miss her.”
Contributing: Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
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