Dame Diana Rigg death – Avengers and Game of Thrones star dies aged 82

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AVENGERS and Game of Thrones star Dame Diana Rigg has died aged 82 from cancer.

The former Bond Girl passed away “peacefully” at home this morning surrounded by her family after a secret six-month battle with the disease.

Her 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”.

Her agent Simon Beresford added: “It is with tremendous sadness that we announce that Dame Diana Rigg died peacefully early this morning.

“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.”

Rigg famously played secret agent Emma Peel in 51 episodes of the Avengers in the 1960s.

She was also the only Bond girl to marry 007 – getting hitched to George Lazenby in Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

But Rigg – who played Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo – was killed just moments after the wedding.

Later in her career, she appeared in ITV’s Victoria and was most recently seen playing Mrs Pumphrey in Channel 5’s new adaptation of All Creatures Great and Small.

She also appeared in Game of Thrones as Olenna Tyrell between 2013 to 2017.

Speaking about the 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.”

Rigg also starred alongside Daniel Radcliffe in Ricky Gervais comedy Extras.

She was born in Doncaster in 1938 and began her acting career in theatre with roles in Royal Shakespeare Company productions in the early 1960s.

But she rose to fame thanks to her role as stunning agent Emma Peel in the Avengers alongside John Steed.

Rigg later famously revealed how “becoming a sex symbol overnight shocked” her.

The iconic actress was made a Dame in the 1994 Birthday Honours for her services to drama.

And she won a best actress Bafta TV award for her role in Mother Love in 1990.

She also won a Bafta special award in 2000 for The Avengers alongside the series’ other stars Honor Blackman, Joanna Lumley and Linda Thorson.

Paying tribute, Bafta said: “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.”

Other tributes are flooding in for the star, who was also nominated for nine primetime Emmy awards.

John Bradley, who starred in Game of Thrones alongside her, said: “Diana Rigg was just wonderful. But you all knew that already. Everybody did. Very sad news.”

Bond producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli remembered Rigg for playing the only woman to have married 007.

They said: “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.”

The League Of Gentlemen’s Mark Gatiss tweeted: “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”.

Playwright Sir David Hare said: “Diana Rigg had a dazzling change of direction in middle age as a great classical actor. When Emma Peel played Euripides’ Medea, Albee’s Martha and Brecht’s Mother Courage she swept all before her”.

While Sir Tom Stoppard tweeted: “For half her life Diana was the most beautiful woman in the room, but she was what used to be called a trooper. She went to work with her sleeves rolled up and a smile for everyone. Her talent was luminous”.

Rigg was married to painter Menachem Gueffen from 1973 to 1976.

She later wed Archibald Stirling, a theatrical producer and former officer in the Scots Guards, in 1982.

The pair had daughter Rachael together but split in 1990 after his affair with actress Joely Richardson.

Rigg has a grandson called Jack through Rachael’s marriage to Elbow frontman Guy Garvey.

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