‘Iconic’ Game of Thrones star dead

 

Award-winning British actress Diana Rigg, who starred in the original The Avengers television series and Game of Thrones, has died at the age of 82.

"It is with tremendous sadness that we announce that Dame Diana Rigg died peacefully early this morning," Rigg's agent, Simon Beresford, said in a statement.

"She was at home with her family who have asked for privacy at this difficult time," he added, calling her "an icon of theatre, film and television".

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Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones. Picture: HBO
Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones. Picture: HBO

The acclaimed actress known for her role as Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo, the only Bond girl to ever marry 007, Rigg was bestowed her "Dame" title in 1994 for her contributions to all things drama.

She suffered from cancer but died surrounded by her family on Thursday morning (local time), reports the New York Post.

"My Beloved Ma died peacefully in her sleep early this morning, at home, surrounded by family," her daughter, actress Rachael Stirling, said in a statement.

 

 

"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."

Mastering both film and theatre, Rigg earned BAFTA, Emmy, Tony and Evening Standards Awards in her long tenure on the stage and on the screen.

 

 

 

Despite her extensive stage experience, Rigg was perhaps best-known for her star-making role in The Avengers in 1965. There's hardly a male baby boomer alive whose heart didn't beat faster at the sight of Emma Peel, her whip-smart, cat-suited character in the mod espionage classic.

"It was a bit frightening," Rigg, who was in her mid-20s in the swinging '60s, told the New York Post in 2018.

 

 

"Bear in mind, it was 50 years ago. I didn't know quite what to do with that degree of lust. I'd been in London to drama school and I was [by] no means naive. But to be given that degree of notoriety was a bit of a shock."

Most recently, Rigg played fan favorite Olenna Tyrell on Game of Thrones from 2013 to 2015. The character went down in GoT history after she admitted to poisoning hideous King Joffrey just before being killed herself. She was Emmy-nominated for guest actress in a drama for her work on the show three consecutive years.

 

Diana Rigg as Emma Peel in the television series The Avengers in 1964. Picture: Getty Images
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel in the television series The Avengers in 1964. Picture: Getty Images

 

Diana Rigg’s Olenna Tyrell was a fan favourite in Game of Thrones. Picture: HBO
Diana Rigg’s Olenna Tyrell was a fan favourite in Game of Thrones. Picture: HBO

 

She also starred on Broadway in Abelard and Heloise in 1971 (her nude scene in the play and critic John Simon's tart assessment of her body generated boatloads of publicity, Variety reported).

She also headlined a revival of Moliere's The Misanthrope in 1975; and Medea in 1994 - earning a Tony nod each time for best actress in a play and winning for Medea.

 

After ditching her catsuit in 1968, she became a Bond girl - the only one who landed the spy and became Mrs. Bond. The film was 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service, in which Australian actor George Lazenby played 007 for his first and last time. Rigg didn't seem to have thought much of him.

 

Diana Rigg and Australian George Lazenby in a scene from the Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Picture: Supplied
Diana Rigg and Australian George Lazenby in a scene from the Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Picture: Supplied

 

"George was untried, unschooled … he was a model, a male model," Rigg said in an interview.

"I was brought on board to help him and to give him gravitas." Alas, she took that gravitas to the grave: Mrs. Bond was swiftly dispatched by the minions of arch villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

Bond producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said Rigg was "much beloved by Bond fans for her memorable performance."

 

 

Lazenby said on Instagram that he was "so sad to hear of the death of Diana Rigg. She undoubtedly raised my acting game when we made On Her Majesty's Secret Service together in 1968-9."

Rigg's other film credits include the Paddy Chayefsky satire The Hospital (1971); Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (1968), The Assassination Bureau (1969), Julius Caesar, with Charlton Heston (1970), A Little Night Music, with Elizabeth Taylor (1977), The Great Muppet Caper (1981), and Bruce Beresford's A Good Man in Africa, opposite Sean Connery (1994).

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She also hosted Masterpiece Mystery from 1989-2004.

Rigg is survived by a daughter she had with her ex-husband, theatre producer Archibald Stirling, actress Rachael Stirling.

 

Natalie Dormer, left, and Diana Rigg in Game of Thrones. Picture: AP
Natalie Dormer, left, and Diana Rigg in Game of Thrones. Picture: AP

 

 

- with the New York Post

 

 

Originally published as 'Iconic' Game of Thrones star dead


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