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Actress Diana Rigg Dies At 82

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Dame Diana Rigg (The Avengers, James Bond's On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Game of Thrones) has died aged 82. One of the UK's most accomplished actors, Diana Rigg became a star as the sexy but smart Emma Peel in the 1960s TV series The Avengers, using her newfound celebrity to launch a high-profile and award-winning career.

She played a key role as Tracy Di Vicenzo in the James Bond franchise, the one girl who tempted 007 to the altar in 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service, but modern viewers will know her best as Lady Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones. Rigg's commanding portrayal of the Queen of Thorns earned her significant accolades, as well as Emmy nominations in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

The BBC has officially announced that Dame Diana Rigg has died at the age of 82. "She died peacefully early this morning," her agent said in a brief comment. "She was at home with her family who have asked for privacy at this difficult time."

Born in Doncaster in 1938, Diana Rigg trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London before beginning her career as a stage actress. She was hired at speed to play the part of secret agent Emma Peel in a relaunch of the British TV series The Avengers in 1962, and it proved an inspired choice; the dynamic between Rigg and the late Patrick Macnee was electric, and Rigg carried herself with a remarkable combination of charisma and gravitas. She became the subject of controversy nonetheless, both for her work on-screen and for her very public campaign for equal pay, which at the time led newspapers to condemn her for being greedy. "I was painted as this sort of mercenary woman," she remembered years later in an interview for BBC's Newsnight, "hard-headed and money-grabbing and all the rest. But it struck me as unfair, so I spoke out." But Rigg should not be seen as a feminist; in fact, she has occasionally spoken against the movement, believing women are in many ways in a stronger position than men.

Rigg has been no stranger to controversy, insisting she saw no need to lead a respectable life. "Sometimes [my life] has blown so far apart, I couldn't gather the pieces together," she told The Times in an interview in 2019. And yet, for all that's the case, Rigg has never allowed that to slow her down - personally or professionally. She has starred in countless films and TV shows over the years, with notable hits including 1969's The Assassination Bureau, 1982's Evil Under The Sun, 1983's King Lear, and the 1997 TV series Rebecca. She had the pleasure of playing alongside her daughter, Rachael Stirling, on several occasions - including in a 2013 episode of Doctor Who, "The Crimson Horror," which had been specially written by Mark Gattiss in her honor. The quality of Rigg's performance has been demonstrated throughout her career, with a string of Emmy nominations and an award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Special for Rebecca.

She will be fondly remembered as an icon of British popular culture.
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