DIANA RIGG Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg                                                           
Born: 20 July 1938 Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England                                     
Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg DBE (born 20 July 1938) is an English actress.             
She is probably best known for her portrayals of Emma Peel in The Avengers and             
Tracy Bond in the 1969 James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service.                   
Rigg was born in the South Yorkshire town of Doncaster, to Louis Rigg and                 
Beryl Helliwell; her father was a railway engineer who had been born in                   
Yorkshire. She lived in India between the ages of two months and eight years               
and then attended the Moravian school in Fulneck, near Pudsey. Rigg spent many             
years of her childhood in Bikaner, India, where her father was employed as a               
railroad executive. Rigg still speaks fluent Hindi.                                       
Rigg is particularly known for her role in the British 1960s television series             
The Avengers, where she played the sexy secret agent Emma Peel. 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, aged 17.                                               
Rigg tried out for the role of Emma Peel on a whim, without ever having seen the           
programme. Although she was hugely successful in the role, 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 GB£90 to GB£180             
weekly), 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 Noel 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 mausoleum with insufficient flying buttresses', by the crude and             
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. 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. Throughout the filming of the movie,           
there were rumors 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 (1969), The Hospital (1971),             
Theatre of Blood (a film she considers to contain her best work) (1973), and A             
Little Night Music (1977). She also appeared 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 1982 she received acclaim for her performance as Arlena Marshall in the film           
adaptation of Agatha Christie's Evil Under the Sun. In 1984, she appeared in a             
public television production of King Lear, starring Sir Laurence Olivier in the           
title role, as Regan, the king's treacherous second daughter. 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 superb portrayal of an                 
obsessive mother who was prepared to do anything, even murder, to keep control             
of her son won Diana the 1989 BAFTA for best actress.                                     
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,             
including 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 and as the brilliant               
amateur detective Mrs. Bradley in The Mrs Bradley Mysteries.                               
In this series, first aired 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. The series was not a critical success and did             
not return for a second season.                                                           
From 1989 until 2003, she hosted the PBS television series Mystery!, taking over           
from Vincent Price, her co-star from Theatre of Blood. Her TV career in America           
has been varied; most famously she starred in her own series Diana, but it was             
not successful.                                                                           
Rigg has continued to perform on stage in London, the latest play being a drama           
entitled Honour which had a limited but successful run in 2006.                           
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 with                   
Morecambe and Wise in 1976, 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.                                             
She currently 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. Her next stage appearance will be in The Cherry             
Orchard at the Chichester Festival.