Regular Cast Biography
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Diana Rigg

Emma Peel, 1965-67

by David K. Smith

Born 20 July 1938 in Doncaster, England, Diana Rigg was transplanted to India at the age of two months when her father, a railroad construction engineer, moved the family there for seven years (where she learned to speak Hindi). Returning to Yorkshire, she graduated from Fulneck Girls School in Pudsey and was promptly accepted by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, although she frequently butted heads with the faculty and was nearly kicked out. While highly successful at the Royal Shakespeare Company, she was starving on the meager pay, and started moonlighting on television shows. An appearance on Armchair Theatre ("The Hothouse") indirectly led to her world-famous role as Mrs. Emma Peel.

Voted #1 in TV Guide's "Top Ten Hottest Stars of All Time" (7 August 1999), Ms. Rigg started her acting career early, appearing in a school play of "Goldilocks" at the age of thirteen, and thereafter expressed a preference for the stage. By the time she was 22 she had been a clerk, a telephonist, and a fashion model. Named Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1987 and made a Dame in 1994, she has received honorary doctorates from Stirling University and from the University of Leeds.

Diana's father was Louis Rigg, her mother Beryl Helliwell. She has a brother, Hugh, an officer in the RAF, four years her elder. She married Menachem Gueffen, an artist, on 6 July 1973 in London, and divorced on 3 September 1976. Her daughter Rachael Atlanta Stirling was born 30 May 1977. She then married Archibald Hugh Stirling, a theatrical producer and Scottish laird (full title: Archibald Stirling of Keir) on 25 March 1982 in New York, and divorced in 1990.

Here are a few tidbits on Rachael: A graduate of the University of Edinburgh, she followed her mother's lead and became an actress (filmography at IMDb). At 5 feet 9 inches, Rachael is 1/2-inch taller than her mother. Clever casting: Rachael plays the young Rebeccah and her mother the mature Rebeccah in the miniseries In the Beginning (2000).

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Page last modified: 5 May 2017.

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