Stars of stage and screen on Thursday paid tribute to Diana Rigg, the award-winning British actress who shot to fame in the 1960s television series “The Avengers” and won new fans in “Game of Thrones”, after her death aged 82.
Rigg, who won Emmy, Tony and Bafta awards during her lengthy career on both sides of the Atlantic, passed away six months after being diagnosed with cancer.
Simon Beresford, her agent, said in a statement that she had died “peacefully” early on Thursday morning at home with her family, who had asked for privacy.
“Dame Diana was a much loved and admired member of her profession, a force of nature who loved her work and her fellow actors,” he added. “She will be greatly missed.”
Rigg’s daughter, the actress Rachael Stirling, said her mother had “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,” she added.
Rigg worked at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) after classical training at Britain’s prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).
But it was as the cat-suited Emma Peel to Patrick Macnee’s bowler-hatted John Steed in the swashbuckling television spy series “The Avengers” that she became household name.
Some saw the high-kicking action role as a symbol of women’s new-found power at the height of the Swinging Sixties, winning her an international profile and a legion of admirers.
For Rigg it was a catapult to success, as she went on to become one of Britain’s leading character actresses, many of them displaying the same intelligence and steel as Mrs Peel.
“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,” said theatre and opera director Jonathan Kent.
“Her dazzling wit and that inimitable voice made her an unforgettable leading figure in British theatre.”