Diana Rigg (1938-2020)

[Actress Diana Rigg died September 10 of cancer at the age of 82 reports The Guardian. Her genre work included appearances in the Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, also Theater of Blood, The Great Muppet Caper, the Doctor Who episode “The Crimson Horror” (2013, with her daughter, Rachael Stirling), and as Lady Olena in Game of Thrones  (2013-2017).]

By Steve Vertlieb: She was the most beautiful woman of her generation, a ravishing, exquisite creature whose delicate high cheek bones and classic features captured the hearts of every young man whose dreams of romantic perfection ever aspired to the ethereal.

Diana Rigg, the classically trained actress who brought Emma Peel to stunning life on “The Avengers” television series was the perfect companion to John Steed, as played by the dapper Patrick MacNee, on the cult British spy series. Her physical beauty was breathtaking, while her whimsical performance as Mrs. Peel was both joyous and sublime.

In “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” she was, perhaps, the most memorable Bond girl of the James Bond franchise, playing Countess Teresa di Vicenzo, the ill fated heroine who alone married the famed super spy.

Her substantial talent was often obscured by her physical beauty and perfection, resembling, perhaps, a latter day Gene Tierney, for a youthful generation of adoring young men and women.

Diana Rigg has left us, partaking of a final journey that we each must ultimately embrace, but her influence upon an entire generation and culture remains impowering, iconic, and intact. In these jaded times, her candor and integrity will be sorely missed and revered. Now, more than ever, Mrs. Peel … You’re Needed.

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18 thoughts on “Diana Rigg (1938-2020)

  1. As Mrs. Peel, she also inspired a lot of young girls to dream of themselves as someone who could do the saving (rather than being saved).

  2. I got to see Diana Rigg on stage in Stephen Sondheim’s Follies while I was in the UK for the 1987 Worldcon.

  3. One of the names in the closing credits — Judy Parfitt — seemed familiar, and a quick IMDB lookup confirmed this. Aside from having been in dozens of PBS and other shows over the years — including half a dozen episodes of ER — she’s one of the regulars in CALL THE MIDWIFE — as Sister Monica Jones.

  4. Her role as Lady Olenna Tyrell on Game of Thrones was one of my favorites in that. She stole every scene.

  5. I’ve managed to never see an episode of The Avengers, which wasn’t on television in Dallas/Fort Worth as I was becoming a SF/F fan in the late 1970s. I’m glad I got to see her as Lady Tyrell in Game of Thrones, one of the greatest characters on the series.

  6. I remember watching The Avengers with my father. I thought he was psychic, he always knew when there was going to be a fight scene. I finally asked him how he knew and he said “She was wearing her fighting clothes.” I liked the show for its mix of SF, spies and humor. Dad liked the fight scenes.
    When Diana Rigg first showed up on Game Of Thrones i turned to my girlfriend and said “She’s still got it!”
    She will be missed.

  7. I should really love to find a video of the Midsummer Night’s Dream (genre classic) in which she played Titania, erupting out a pond stark naked. Definitely a memory.
    I long ago cast her to play the role of my wife, Diana L. Paxson, in the bio flick which will surely come along. Now we will have to recast, alas.

  8. @Jon —

    I should really love to find a video of the Midsummer Night’s Dream (genre classic) in which she played Titania, erupting out a pond stark naked. Definitely a memory.

    Well, hmph.

    According to IMDB, you can find that version (1968) at something called “Fandor”. But when you click on that link, it takes you to Amazon and the 1969 version (with Helen Mirren, no slouch herself) instead.

    But wikipedia says that this IS the version with Diana Rigg, even though she isn’t credited on the Amazon page, and even though the listed year is different.


    Now playing: “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz

  9. Oh! And here it is on Youtube. 🙂

    (And incidentally, Judi Dench is the one who shows up naked in the film, according to wikipedia; Diana plays Helena.)

    Now playing: “Belief” by Gavin DeGraw

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