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Diana Rigg

Diana Rigg

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Also Known As: Dame Diana Rigg Died:
Born: July 20, 1938 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Yorkshire, England, GB Profession: actor, model

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

The poised, effortlessly versatile veteran of stage, film and television for over five decades, Dame Diana Rigg was a rara avis: a flawless interpreter of Shakespeare and other classical stage work, as well as a thinking man's sex symbol as Mrs. Emma Peel, the catsuit-sporting crime fighter on "The Avengers" (ITV, 1961-69). Rigg's cool beauty and knack for witty banter made her an idol among male viewers during the 1960s, but she struggled to overcome the character's superhuman charms after leaving the show. She instead found lasting fame and respect on Broadway and television, where she netted Tony and Emmy awards as formidable figures like Medea and Mrs. Danvers in "Rebecca" (ITV, 1996). Though fondly remembered for "The Avengers" decades later, Rigg's body of work made her one of the most accomplished and respected actresses in the business.

The poised, effortlessly versatile veteran of stage, film and television for over five decades, Dame Diana Rigg was a rara avis: a flawless interpreter of Shakespeare and other classical stage work, as well as a thinking man's sex symbol as Mrs. Emma Peel, the catsuit-sporting crime fighter on "The Avengers" (ITV, 1961-69). Rigg's cool beauty and knack for witty banter made her an idol among male viewers during the 1960s, but she struggled to overcome the character's superhuman charms after leaving the show. She instead found lasting fame and respect on Broadway and television, where she netted Tony and Emmy awards as formidable figures like Medea and Mrs. Danvers in "Rebecca" (ITV, 1996). Though fondly remembered for "The Avengers" decades later, Rigg's body of work made her one of the most accomplished and respected actresses in the business.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
 Heidi (2005) Cast
3.
 Parting Shots (1998) Lisa
4.
 Original Sin (1997) Host ("Mystery!")
5.
 Haunting of Helen Walker, The (1995) Mrs Grose
6.
 Good Man in Africa, A (1994) Chloe Fanshawe
7.
 Running Delilah (1994) Judith
8.
 Prime Suspect (1992) Host ("Mystery!")
9.
 Mrs. 'arris Goes to Paris (1992) Madame Colbert
10.
 Hazard of Hearts (1987) Harriet--Marchioness Of Vulcan
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Spent time as a child living in India when her father worked there building railways; spoke Hindi and was tended to by the customary ayah (a nanny)
1945:
Moved back to England when she began attending boarding school (date approximate)
:
Lived with her parents again when they returned to England from India
1951:
Acted in school play of "Goldilocks" at age 13
:
Modelled for four months in stores (date approximate)
1957:
Professional stage debut as Natasha Abashwilli in RADA production of Bertolt Brecht's "The Caucasian Chalk Circle" at York Festival
1959:
Joined Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in Stratford-on-Avon
1960:
First acted with the RSC when she played the role of Andromache in Shakespeare's "Troilus and Cressida"
1961:
London stage debut with RSC, playing Philippe Trincant in "The Devils" (February 20th)
1962:
Returned to Stratford; began playing wide range of Shakespearean roles at the Aldwych Theater
1963:
TV debut as Francy in episode of ITV's "Sentimental Agent"
1964:
Left the RSC (date approximate)
1964:
Announcement that Rigg had won role of Emma Peel on "The Avengers" (December 15th)
1965:
Acted on ABC hit adventure series, "The Avengers"
1966:
Returned to the RSC to play Viola in a production of "Twelfth Night"
1968:
Film debut as Helena in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (film version of RSC stage production, broadcast on CBS in 1969)
1971:
Broadway debut, "Abelard and Heloise"; received Tony nomination as Best Actress in a Play
1971:
Joined London's National Theater to play the role of Dottie in Tom Stoppard's "Jumpers"
1971:
First US film, "The Hospital"
:
Played Diana Smythe on the NBC sitcom, "Diana"
:
Returned to Broadway to act in a revival of Moliere's "The Misanthrope"; received Tony nomination as Best Actress in a Play
1975:
US TV-movie debut, "In This House of Brede"; received Emmy nomination for performance
1982:
Last feature film for five years, "Evil Under the Sun"
1982:
Played the title role in the stage musical biography of the noted novelist, "Colette"; show closed while on tour and never made it to Broadway
1987:
Performed in the Stephen Sondheim musical, "Follies", on the London stage
1987:
Returned to features to play the "Mean Queen" in an adaptation of "Snow White"
1989:
Served as host of the British-made anthology series, "Mystery!", Broadcast on PBS
1990:
Starred in the PBS miniseries, "Mother Love", aired as several installments of "Mystery!"
1993:
Returned again to features to appear in another children's fantasy film, "The Worst Witch"
1994:
Returned to the Broadway stage for the first time in two decades in a revival of Euripides' classic tragedy, "Medea"
1994:
Named Dame Commander of the British Empire by the Queen
1999:
Portrayed a woman dying of cancer in "Parting Shots", directed by Michael Winner
2001:
Featured on the London stage in "Humble Boy"
2001:
Appeared in the A&E miniseries "Victoria & Albert" about the marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
2006:
Cast in John Curran's adaptation of the Somerset Maugham novel, "The Painted Veil"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Fulneck Girls School: -
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art: London , England - 1958

Notes

She was named Commander of the Order of the British Empire (1987) and later created a Dame (1994).

Rigg has received honorary doctorates from Stirling University and from the University of Leeds.

She was named professor of theatre arts at Oxford in 1998.

Men seem to have been fans of Diana Rigg not only during her run as Emma Peel in "The Avengers" but more recently as well. One man recently wrote, "Give a man a pudding and Diana Rigg during the lunch hour and experience shows he will be a thing of slobbering contentment from start to finish." --Reported in New York Newsday, April 3, 1994.

"I hope there's a tinge of disgrace about me. Hopefully, ther's one good scandal left in me yet. One surprising thing, yah?" --Diana Rigg quoted in the London Times, May 3, 1999.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Philip Saville. Director. Lived together in the 1960s.
husband:
Menachem Gueffen. Artist. Married on July 6, 1973 in London; divorced on September 3, 1976 on grounds of two-year separation; Israeli; Rigg has described their marriage as "a grotesque error".
husband:
Archibald Hugh Stirling. Occasional theatrical producer. Scottish laird; full title Archibald Stirling of Keir; married on March 25, 1982 in NYC (then-city clerk David Dinkins performed ceremony); had affair with actress Joely Richardson in the 1980s; Rigg filed for divorce but withdrew petition; divorced in August 1990.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Louis Rigg. Engineer. Built railroads in India when Rigg was a little girl.
mother:
Beryl Rigg.
daughter:
Rachael Stirling. Actor. Born on May 30, 1977.

Bibliography close complete biography

"No Stone Unturned" Elm Tree Books

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