Diana Rigg, the Tony and Emmy award winning actress who career included the iconic 1960s TV series The Avengers, a slew of stage and screen performances, a stint as a Bond girl, and more recently, success as sharp-tongued Lady Olenna in Game of Thrones, has died at age 82.
Rigg, who was diagnosed with cancer in March, died in her sleep at her home in England, surrounded by family. Rigg is survived by a daughter, actress Rachael Stirling, whom she had with theater producer Archibald Stirling during their eight year marriage that ended in 1990. Stirling says Rigg “spent her last months joyfully reflecting on her extraordinary life, full of love, laughter and a deep pride in her profession.”
Rigg was cast in the iconic role of Emma Peel after Honor Blackman left the series to star in the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger. Show producers said Rigg’s screen test was head and shoulders above the other auditioning actresses to play the witty, stylish and crafty Peel.
Like Blackman, Rigg left the series after a few years to become a Bond girl in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, becoming the only Bond girl to get 007 to the altar – only to be killed later by villain Blofeld.
Rigg, who won a 1994 Tony for Medea and a 1997 Emmy for Rebecca, received several Emmy nominations throughout her career, including three from 2013-2015 for her performance as Lady Olenna Tyrell in HBO’s Game of Thrones. Last year Rigg reminisced on playing the crafty character:
“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.”
Rigg’s final role is in the upcoming psychological horror film, Last Night in Soho.