The actress was the only Bond girl in the 007 series to have married the fictional British Secret Service agent.
2020 has been a year of losses with Hollywood expressing their condolences for the actors and actresses who've been a massive part of the industry. While some demises were inevitable, others came as shock.
Only last month, the world felt the blow of losing its Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman, and now it's mourning the loss of another legendary actress Dame Diana Rigg. She was known for her exceptional performance in British television series The Avengers, being a part of the James Bond world, and for playing the fearless Lady Tyrell in Game of Thrones.
Daughter of a government supervisor, Rigg was born as Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg on July 20, 1938, in Doncaster, Yorkshire, England, according to Britannica. She spent her early childhood in India but returned to Yorkshire at the age of eight. That's when she began her early career as an actress by playing the lead role in the school theatre.
She soon understood that she was meant to be on the stage, in front of the camera, and made her first appearance on the London stage in 1961 after joining the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). With the RSC, she spent her time in 1964 touring Europe, the Soviet Union, and the United States. But she gained worldwide fame after replacing Honor Blackman in the popular British series The Avengers (1965–67) and landing the role of secret agent Emma Peel.
Her stint as Peel attracted a widespread cult following and she felt like her TV career had given her more than she'd ever expected. Considering her TV work valuable, she once said, “Television has taught me an economy of style I didn’t have before. I feel it has done me nothing but good.”
Television paved her way to films and soon she bagged the role of Bond girl in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) and also acted in the Vincent Price horror film Theatre of Blood (1973) while continuing with theatre work in England and the U.S. The legendary actress did remarkable work in the industry and lived a prosperous life but for the past six months, she had been battling cancer, reported The Sun.
The 82-year-old's grieving daughter, actress Rachael Stirling said, "My Beloved Ma died peacefully in her sleep early this morning, at home, surrounded by family. 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."
According to The Daily Mail her agent, Simon Beresford added, "It is with tremendous sadness that we announce that Dame Diana Rigg died peacefully early this morning."
He continued, "She was at home with her family who have asked for privacy at this difficult time. Dame Diana was an icon of theatre, film, and television. She was the recipient of Bafta, Emmy, Tony, and Evening Standard Awards for her work on stage and screen."
"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," he concluded.
The actress played Mrs. Pumphrey in Channel 5's adaptation of All Creatures Great and Small. She also famously played Olenna Tyrell between 2013 to 2017 in Game of Throne. Talking about her role she said, "There are some actors who don't like to play bad; they like to be liked. I love to be disliked. Olenna had the best lines." She also starred in Ricky Gervais comedy Extras alongside Daniel Radcliffe.
The iconic actress was a winner of two best actress BAFTA TV awards as well. She was also made the Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for her services to drama. Paying tribute to the actress, BAFTA wrote on Twitter, "We're sad to hear of the passing of Dame Diana Rigg, BAFTA-winner for her performance in Mother Love in 1990 and joint recipient of the BAFTA Television Special Award in 2000 for The Avengers." She was nominated for nine Primetime Emmy awards too.
We're sad to hear of the passing of Dame Diana Rigg, BAFTA-winner for her performance in Mother Love in 1990 and joint recipient of the BAFTA Television Special Award in 2000 for The Avengers. pic.twitter.com/v0tzBczNKU— BAFTA (@BAFTA) September 10, 2020
James Bond producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli remembered Rigg and wrote, "We are very sad to hear of the passing of Dame Diana Rigg, the legendary stage and screen actress who was much beloved by Bond fans for her memorable performance as Tracy di Vicenzo in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the only woman to have married James Bond. Our love and thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time."
"We are very sad to hear of the passing of Dame Diana Rigg, the legendary stage and screen actress who was much beloved by Bond fans for her memorable performance as Tracy di Vicenzo in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the only woman to have married James Bond." pic.twitter.com/nqQCSg35oM— James Bond (@007) September 10, 2020
George Lazenby, who played James Bond alongside Rigg, offered his condolences on Instagram and wrote, "I'm 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 1968-69."
He continued, "I was sorry to have lost my wife in the film at the end. The death of Contessa Teresa di Vincenzo Draco created a memorable cinema moment over 50 years ago. As my new bride, Tracy Bond, I wept for her loss. Now, upon hearing of Dame Diana's death, I weep again. My deepest condolences for her family. Love George xx"
The League Of Gentlemen's Mark Gatiss remembered the actress as "Flinty, fearless, fabulous". He wrote, "There will never be another. RIP."
It was my great joy and privilege to have known Diana Rigg. From three slightly hysterical months at the Old Vic in ‘All About Mother’ to writing The Crimson Horror for Diana and her wonderful daughter Rachael. Flinty, fearless, fabulous. There will never be another. RIP pic.twitter.com/2EGc4MVx0S— Mark Gatiss (@Markgatiss) September 10, 2020
Talking to BBC Newsnight in 2019, she spoke about her experience with harassment by a powerful director and said, "I simply, hardly acknowledged it was happening. I think scorn is quite a powerful tool. I would urge women to use scorn whenever possible, because it sort of scorches the gentleman," reported The Daily Mail.
She added, "I'm all for the women who speak out, and I'm very glad that they now have a platform to speak out." She is survived by her daughter Rachael and grandson Jack.