Diana Rigg Dies; Game of Thrones and The Avengers Star Was 82

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Dame Diana Rigg has died. 

She was 82. 

“She died peacefully early this morning,” her agent said in a statement to the BBC.

Lady Olenna Returns - Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 6

“She was at home with her family who have asked for privacy at this difficult time.”

The British actress shot to fame for her appearance in the original 1961 TV series The Avengers, and was also well-known for her appearance on All Creatures Great and Small. 

More recently, she portrayed Olenna Tyrell on HBO's hit fantasy drama, Game of Thrones, a role that earned her three consecutive Emmy nominations for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, from 2013 through 2015.

Rigg also played a Bond girl in On Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1969, becoming the only Bond girl to get 007 to the altar. 

Dianna Rigg as Olenna Tyrell

She played the fan-favorite Emma Peel during her three-year turn on The Avengers, a role which won her much praise. 

The actress opened up last year about being on the show, and how she found out she was being paid less than her male co-stars. 

She said she threatened to quit unless she was given a hefty increase in salary, and the people behind the show obliged. 

"I was a lone voice in the wilderness, nobody backed me up," she said on the BBC's Newsnight in 2019.

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"Pat Macnee kept his head well below the parapet when I stepped forward and said, 'I think it's quite wrong that I'm being paid less than the cameraman.'"

"Of course then I was painted as this sort of mercenary woman, and hard headed and money grabbing and all the rest of it," Rigg added in her interview.

"But it struck me as being unfair so I spoke out. I've always thought that equal pay gets you a long way to being treated equally by a man."

Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg was born near Doncaster on 20 July 1938. She traveled to India as a child, where her father worked as a railway engineer for the Maharaja of Bikaner.

dianna rigg

Upon her return to England after the war, she spoke Hindi as a second language, and was sent to a Yorkshire boarding school.

She trained as an actress at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art after leaving the school, and made her professional acting debut in Bertolt Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle as part of the 1957 York Festival.

Rigg's final movie, Last Night in Soho, will be released in 2021.

May she rest in peace. 

In the aftermath of the news, co-workers of the actress tweeted their tributes to the late star. 

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau Photograph

“Dame Diana Rigg,” tweeted Thrones costar Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.

“She always raised the bar with her incredible talent, intelligence and wit. An absolute joy and honor to work with. May her soul Rest In Peace.”

“What to say about Diana Rigg?,” tweeted Edgar Wright, who directed Last Night in Soho.

“I could talk about her incredible career, but for now I’ll just say as a lifelong fan, it was beyond a thrill to work with her on her final film. She exceeded all my highest expectations, so blazingly talented, fiery & funny. Miss you already Dame D.”

“Diana Rigg had a dazzling change of direction in middle age as a great classical actor,” said playwright and screenwriter David Hare in a statement.

“When Emma Peel played Euripides’ Medea, Albee’s Martha and Brecht’s Mother Courage she swept all before her.”

Director Jonathan Kent said, “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."

"I was so fortunate to direct her in a series of great classical roles – Medea, Phèdre – in Ted Hughes’ version, specially written for her – Mother Courage and Dryden’s Cleopatra. Her dazzling wit and that inimitable voice made her an unforgettable leading figure in British theatre.”

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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