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Actress Dame Diana Rigg dies aged 82

Actress Dame Diana Rigg, known for her roles in 1960s television series The Avengers and later Games of Thrones, has died aged 82.

The star also played James Bond’s wife Teresa di Vincenzo in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969.

Her family confirmed that she was diagnosed with cancer in March and “spent her last months joyfully reflecting on her extraordinary life.”

A statement from her agent Simon Beresford said: “It is with tremendous sadness that we announce that Dame Diana Rigg died peacefully early this morning.

“She was at home with her family who have asked for privacy at this difficult time. Dame Diana was an icon of theatre, film, and television.

“She was the recipient of Bafta, Emmy, Tony and Evening Standard Awards for her work on stage and screen.

“Dame 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.”

Dame Diana’s daughter, actress Rachael Stirling, said: “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”.

On the set of The Avengers (AFP via Getty Images)

Born in Doncaster in 1938, Rigg studied at RADA from 1955 to 1957, where her classmates included fellow stage and screen legend Glenda Jackson.

She became a household name thanks to her role in hit TV series The Avengers throughout the 1960s, playing secret agent Emma Peel.

She then starred as Teresa di Vicenzo opposite George Lazenby in Her Majesty’s Secret Service, playing the woman who would eventually become Mrs Bond.

The actress was never comfortable with her newfound status as an on-screen sex symbol but later admitted that she took the role as a means of raising her profile in the United States.

Other notable screen roles included her appearance in the Agatha Christie adaptation Death Under The Sun opposite Dame Maggie Smith, as well as her turn as sinister housekeeper Mrs Danvers in the TV adaptation of Rebecca, which won her an Emmy, and as Regan in Granada’s production of King Lear opposite Sir Laurence Olivier.

Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell (HBO)

She then found a new generation of fans as the sharp-tongued Lady Olenna Tyrell in HBO’s Game of Thrones, a role which earned her another Emmy nomination in 2013.

Rigg was also celebrated for her stage career, which began as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1959.


She received the first of three Best Actress Tony nominations in 1971 for her role in Heloise and Abelard on Broadway, before later picking up nods for The Misanthrope in 1975 and for Medea in 1994, which finally earned her the trophy.

She received a further nomination for Supporting Actress for her final stage role in the Broadway production of My Fair Lady in 2018.

Rigg was married to Israeli painter Menachem Gueffen from 1973 to 1976 and later tied the knot with theatrical producer Archibald Stirling in 1982. They divorced in 1990.

She is survived by her daughter Rachael.


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