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Bond, Avengers and Game Of Thrones star Dame Diana Rigg dies aged 82

Written by on 10 September 2020

Tributes are being paid to “icon” Dame Diana Rigg, a Bond girl and star of Avengers and Game Of Thrones, who has died at the age of 82.

The award-winning actress died of cancer, which had been diagnosed in March, on Thursday morning, surrounded by her family.

Best known as secret agent Emma Peel in The Avengers in the 1960s, and more recently for playing Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones, Rigg was a star of stage and screen whose career spanned several decades.

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The award-winning actress, pictured in Game Of Thrones, was a star of stage and screen for more than 60 years. Pic: Sky UK
Diana Rigg. Pic: Studiocanal/Shutterstock
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Pic: Studiocanal/Shutterstock

She also played Countess Teresa di Vicenzo, James Bond’s wife – the only woman to get 007 to the altar – in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Paying tribute to her “beloved Ma”, her daughter, Rachael Stirling said the actress “spent her last months joyfully reflecting on her extraordinary life, full of love, laughter and a deep pride in her profession”.

She added: “I will miss her beyond words.”

Rigg’s agent, Simon Beresford, announced the news “with tremendous sadness” in a statement describing the star as “an icon of theatre, film, and television”.

He said: “She was the recipient of BAFTA, Emmy, Tony and Evening Standard awards for her work on stage and screen.

Pic: Dan Wooller/Shutterstock

'Love Love Love' play, After Party, London, UK - 11 Mar 2020
Rachael Stirling (Sandra) and Diana Rigg

11 Mar 2020
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Rigg picured with her daughter, Rachael Stirling, earlier this year, and when she was a baby (below). Pic: Dan Wooller/Shutterstock
Diana Rigg Actress With Daughter Rachel Stirling. Pic: Chris Barham/ANL/Shutterstock
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Pic: Chris Barham/ANL/Shutterstock

“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.”

Rigg spent several years in the 1960s as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and had smaller roles on screen before her break came in The Avengers. Starring alongside Patrick McNee’s John Steed, together they formed an impeccably dressed duo who fought crime and traded quips.

Other acting credits included the Duchess of Buccleuch in Victoria, and she also starred alongside her daughter in the sitcom Detectorists.

Playwrights Sir David Hare and Sir Tom Stoppard also paid tribute, with Sir Tom saying: “For half her life Diana was the most beautiful woman in the room, but she was what used to be called a trooper.

“She went to work with her sleeves rolled up and a smile for everyone. Her talent was luminous.”

Laurence Olivier as King Lear and Diana Rigg as daughter Regan. Pic: ITV/Shutterstock
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She starred alongside Laurence Olivier in King Lear and Oliver Reed in The Assassination Bureau (below). Pic: ITV/Shutterstock
The Assassination Bureau, Diana Rigg, Oliver Reed
Pic: Moviestore/Shutterstock
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Pic: Moviestore/Shutterstock

Theatre director Jonathan Kent, who directed the actress in a series of roles, said: “Diana Rigg’s 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.

“I was so fortunate to direct her in a series of great classical roles – Medea, Phedre – in Ted Hughes’ version, specially written for her – Mother Courage and Dryden’s Cleopatra. Her dazzling wit and that inimitable voice made her an unforgettable leading figure in British theatre.”