Sad news to report this morning. Diana Rigg, who played Emma Peel on the ’60s series The Avengers, has passed away at the age of 82. Her representatives confirmed the news to the BBC this morning. AP, via “Deadline“, is reporting that the British actress died from cancer that was diagnosed in March. Her agent says “She died peacefully early this morning. She was at home with her family who have asked for privacy at this difficult time.”
Rigg is a celebrated award-winning British actress of both stage and screen. Rigg was probably best known for her role as Emma Peel on The Avengers, which was a ’60s spy series that ran for 51 episodes. The role made Rigg a sex symbol of sorts during the time and likely led to her appearing in the 1969 film, ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE opposite George Lazenby in his only appearance as James Bond. Rigg played Tracy Bond, Bond’s wife who meets a tragic fate.
In recent years, Rigg portrayed Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones where she famously says “Tell Cersei, I want her to know it was me.” The actress also appeared in Andy Serkis‘ 2017 BREATHE and appeared in ITV’s Victoria Channel 5’s All Creatures Great And Small, which began airing this month. Her other credits include her stage work such as a 1992 production of the Greek tragedy Medea, for which she won a Tony in the title role, and a 1987 staging of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Follies. Rigg also has a role in Edgar Wright’s upcoming feature LAST NIGHT IN SOHO, which is scheduled for release on April 23, 2021.
Rigg was also acknowledged via numerous award nominations for her work both on stage and on screen. In addition to her Best Actress in a Play Tony win for Medea, she was Golden Globe nominated for The Hospital in 1972 and she won an Emmy for Rebecca in 1997. Rigg also received a BAFTA TV award in 1990, and received several Olivier nominations.
Diana Rigg was born in Doncaster in 1938 and she grew up for a brief period in India before returning to the UK to attend boarding school. She enrolled in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1955, where her classmates included Glenda Jackson. It was here that the actress perfected her craft and, after a stint with the Royal Shakespeare Company, she achieved stage fame with her role in the Ronald Millar play Abelard and Heloïse, for which she earned the first of three Tony nominations.
Diana Riggs’ daughter, Rachael Stirling, who is a two-time Olivier Award nominated actress herself, has this to say about her mom’s passing that I feel is a perfect note to end this on:
“My beloeved 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, laugher and a deep pride in her profession. I will miss her beyond words.”
What an extraordinary life indeed! R.I.P. Diana Rigg. Our deepest condolences go out to family, friends and fans at this time.