The world-renowned star from Avengers, James Bond, and Game of Thrones, has died aged 82.
Her daughter, actress Rachael Stirling, said she died of cancer, after being diagnosed in March.
“My Beloved Ma died peacefully in her sleep early this morning, at home, surrounded by family. I will miss her beyond words.”She spent her last months joyfully reflecting on her extraordinary life, full of love, laughter, and deep pride in her profession,” she added.
She was born in Doncaster which was then in the West Riding of Yorkshire, her father was a railway engineer. Between the ages of two months and eight years, She grew up in, Rajasthan, India, where her father was employed as a railway executive in the State Railway. She spoke Hindi as her second language in those young years.
She was later sent back to England to attend a boarding school, Fulneck Girls School, in a Moravian settlement near Pudsey. She was trained as an actress at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art from 1955–57, where her classmates included Glenda Jackson and Siân Phillips
Other than the roll in Game of thrones, Dame Diana also played the only woman who became Mrs. James Bond.
She played Tracy, who married George Lazenby’s 007 in the 1969 film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
She was made a CBE in 1988 and a Dame in 1994 for services to drama.
“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.” pic.twitter.com/nqQCSg35oM
— James Bond (@007) September 10, 2020
Sir Tom Stoppard, who remembered her “luminous” talent, while fellow playwright Sir David Hare said the actress had a “dazzling change of direction in middle age as a great classical actor”.
‘She swept all before her”
He added: “When Emma Peel played Euripides’ Medea, Albee’s Martha and Brecht’s Mother Courage she swept all before her.”
Her four Tony Awards nominations resulted in a win for her searing portrayal in the leading role in the stage play Medea in 1994.
Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster Waldau, who played Jaime Lannister, said the actress “always raised the bar with her incredible talent, intelligence, and wit. An absolute joy and honor to work with”.
Be a dragon.
The realm will always remember Diana Rigg.
— Game of Thrones (@GameOfThrones) September 10, 2020
Sherlock writer and actor Mark Gatiss fondly recalled working with her, while Stephen Merchant remembered her in a scene from his show Extras.
Director Jonathan Kent added that her “combination of force of personality, beauty, courage and sheer emotional power, made her a great classical actress – one of an astonishing generation of British stage performers”.
He said: “Her dazzling wit and that inimitable voice made her an unforgettable leading figure in British theatre.”
Last year, Dame Diana spoke of her delight at her role in Game of Thrones, telling the BBC: “I love playing bad. They are so much more interesting than good”.
“There are some actors who don’t like to play bad; they like to be liked. I love to be disliked. Olenna had the best lines.”
In 1990, Dame Diana won the best actress Bafta TV award for playing a difficult mother-in-law in Mother Love. She also won a Bafta special award in 2000 for The Avengers, shared with the series’ other stars Honor Blackman, Joanna Lumley, and Linda Thorson.
Dame Diana was also nominated for nine primetime Emmy awards, winning for her role as Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca in 1997.
It was my 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. RIP pic.twitter.com/2EGc4MVx0S
— Mark Gatiss (@Markgatiss) September 10, 2020
RIP Dame Diana Rigg. Great actress and good sport – lest we forget, she let Daniel Radcliffe flick a condom on her head in Extras. pic.twitter.com/scFC8KPlZz
— Stephen Merchant (@StephenMerchant) September 10, 2020