Diana Rigg:

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Born On The: 20th July 1938.
Died On The: Not known.
Occupation(s): Actress.

Zodiac: Born under the Star Sign CancerCancerWhat Star Sign are You?

Achievement(s):
Emma Peel in The Avengers.
Countess Teresa di Vicenzo in the 1969 James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
CBE - Commander of the Order of the British Empire (1988).
DBE - Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (1994)

Biography:

Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg, DBE was an actress, who was born in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, however, she lived in Bikaner, India from when she was only 2 months old until she was 8, due to her father working as a railway executive there; which explains why Rigg can speak fluent Hindi.

She was then sent to a Moravian boarding school in Fulneck, near Pudsey; she disliked her boarding school, where she felt like a fish out of water, but she believes that Yorkshire played a greater part in shaping her character than India did.

She trained as an actress at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Rigg is particularly known for her role in the British 1960s television series The Avengers, where she played the secret agent Mrs. Emma Peel for 51 episodes between 1965 and 1967; she tried out for the role of Emma Peel on a whim, without ever having seen the programme.

See Avengers photo!

Her career in film, television and the theatre has been wide-ranging, including roles in the Royal Shakespeare Company between 1959 and 1964; her professional debut was in The Caucasian Chalk Circle in 1955 at age 17.

Although she was hugely successful in the role of Emma Peel, she did not like the lack of privacy that television brought; she also did not like the way that she was treated by ABC Weekend TV; after a dozen episodes she discovered that she was being paid less than a cameraman.

For the second series she held out for a raise in pay from £150 a week to £450, but there was still no question of her staying for a third year; Patrick Macnee, her co-star in the series, noted that Rigg had later told him that she considered Macnee and her driver to be her only friends on the set; after leaving The Avengers she appeared as the title character in the telemovie The Marquise, which was based on a play by Noël Coward.

She also returned to the stage, including playing two Tom Stoppard leads, Ruth Carson in Night and Day and Dorothy Moore in Jumpers; a nude scene with Keith Michell in Abelard and Heloise led to a notorious description of her as 'built like a brick basilica with insufficient flying buttresses', by the acerbic critic John Simon; in 1982, she appeared in a musical called Colette, based on the life of the French writer and created by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, but it closed during an American tour en route to Broadway and in 1986, she took a leading role in the West End production of Stephen Sondheim's musical Follies.

On the big screen she became a Bond girl in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), playing Tracy Bond, James Bond's only wife; she said she took the role with the hope that she would become well known in America; throughout the filming of the movie, there were rumours that the experience was not a happy one, owing to a personality clash with Bond actor George Lazenby; the rumors may have arisen from a reporter witnessing her say "I'm having garlic for lunch George Lazenby I hope you are!" before a love scene between the two; however, both Rigg and Lazenby have denied the claims and both wrote off the garlic comment as a joke.

Her other films include The Assassination Bureau in 1969, The Hospital in 1971, Theatre of Blood in 1973, In This House of Brede in 1975, A Little Night Music in 1977 and as Lady Holiday in the 1981 film The Great Muppet Caper.

In the 1980s, after reading stinging reviews of a stage performance she had given, Rigg was inspired to compile the worst theatrical reviews she could find into a tongue-in-cheek, and best-selling compilation, entitled No Turn Unstoned.

In 1981 she appeared in a Yorkshire Television production of Hedda Gabler in the title role; in 1982 she received acclaim for her performance as Arlena Stuart Marshall in the film adaptation of Agatha Christie's Evil Under the Sun; in 1983 she appeared in a Granada Television production of King Lear, starring Laurence Olivier in the title role, as Regan the king's treacherous second daughter; in 1985 she co-starred with Denholm Elliot in a BBC production of Bleak House, a novel by Charles Dickens; in 1988 she played the Wicked Queen in the Cannon adaptation of Snow White; in 1989 she played Helena Vesey in Mother Love for the BBC; her portrayal of an obsessive mother who was prepared to do anything, even murder, to keep control of her son won Rigg the 1989 BAFTA for best actress and in 1989 she appeared in the BBC adaptation of Alice Thomas Ellis' Unexplained Laughter, alongside Elaine Paige.

In 1986, she presented the Scottish Television series Held in Trust, which focused on the work of the National Trust for Scotland and some of its most famous treasures.

In the 1990s, she had triumphs with roles at the Almeida Theatre in Islington; these included Medea in 1993, for which she received the Best Actress Tony Award, Mother Courage in 1995 and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1996.

On television she has appeared as Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca, winning an Emmy Award in the process; the mother-in-law in the PBS production Moll Flanders, as the amateur detective Mrs. Bradley in The Mrs Bradley Mysteries; in 1992 she also played Mme. Colbert Chief Vendeuse to the fashion house of Dior in Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris and in 2000 she played Gladys Mitchell's detective, Dame Beatrice Adela Le Strange Bradley, an eccentric old woman who worked for Scotland Yard as a pathologist.

From 1989 until 2003, she hosted the PBS television series Mystery!, taking over from Vincent Price, her co-star from Theatre of Blood.

Rigg has continued to perform on stage; in 2004, she appeared as Violet Venable in Sheffield Theatres' production of Tennessee Williams's play Suddenly Last Summer, which enjoyed a successful national tour; in 2006 she appeared at Wyndham's Theatre in London's West End in a drama entitled Honour which had a limited but successful run; in 2007, she appeared as Huma Rojo in the Old Vic's production of All About My Mother, adapted by Samuel Adamson and based on the film of the same title directed by Pedro Almodóvar; in 2008 she appeared in The Cherry Orchard at the Chichester Festival Theatre, returning there in 2009 to star in Noël Coward's Hay Fever.

Although she does not consider herself a singer, her performances in A Little Night Music, Follies and other stage musicals have been well received by audiences and critics alike; she made a highly memorable appearance on the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show in 1975, in which she played Nell Gwynne in a musical pastiche, joining Eric and Ernie to sing “How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Loved You When You Know I've Been A Liar All My Life?”.

She also appeared in the second season of Ricky Gervais' hit comedy, Extras, alongside Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe and in the 2006 film, The Painted Veil.

Rigg is a Patron of International Care & Relief and was for many years the public face of the charity's child sponsorship scheme; she was also Chancellor of the University of Stirling, being succeeded by James Naughtie when her ten year term of office ended on 31 July 2008.



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