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Diana Rigg    

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.

Inquiries about Diana's daughter are on the rise, so 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).

Trivia: Dame Diana Rigg appeared as a guest on The New Paul O'Grady Show on Channel 4 on Friday 2nd May. During her interview the actress discussed her time playing the role of Emma Peel in the 60s action TV series, The Avengers, which was made at Elstree Studios (then called A.B.P.C - Associated British Pictures Corportation). At the end of the show, Dame Diana was presented with a framed certificate to prove that she had created a new world record! The record being that Rigg was the first Western actress to have performed Kung Fu on a British TV series! Courtesy of www.elstreecalling.co.uk

 Diana Rigg Links (a sampling)

 Emma Peel Links (a sampling)

 Awards

  • WOMEN IN FILM AND TELEVISION AWARDS Lifetime Achievement (2001)
  • BAFTA (2000) for The Avengers
  • Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Special for "Rebecca" (1996-97)
  • LONDON EVENING STANDARD Award for Best Actress for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1996)
  • Tony for Best Leading Actress in a Drama for "Medea" (1994)
  • LONDON EVENING STANDARD Award for Best Actress for "Medea" (1992)
  • Variety Club Award for "Evil Under the Sun" (1982)
  • PLAYS AND PLAYERS London Theatre Critics Award for Best Actress for "Phaedra Britannica" (1975)

 Books & Miscellany

  • So To the Land (1994)
  • No Turn Unstoned: The Worst Ever Theatrical Reviews (1982)
  • 45 RPM record: "Sentimental Journey" b/w "Forget Yesterday" UK RCA-Victor #2178 (1972)

 Stage

2006  

Honour

Honor Spencer

2004  

Suddenly Last Summer

Mrs Venable

2002  

The Hollow Crown

2001  

The Women

2001  

Humble Boy

Flora

1998  

Almeida

Britannicus

1998  

Phedre

Phedre

1996  

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Martha

1995  

Mother Courage

Mother Courage

1992  

Medea

Medea

1992  

Berlin Bertie

Rosa

1992  

Putting It Together

1990  

All for Love

Cleopatra

1990  

Love Letters

Melissa Gardner

1987  

Follies

Phyllis Stone

1986  

Wildfire

Bess Garrison

1985  

Antony and Cleopatra

Cleopatra

1985  

Little Eyolf

Rita Allmers

1983  

Heartbreak House

Hesione Hushabye

1982  

Colette

Colette

1978  

Night and Day

Ruth Carson

1978  

The Guardsman

Ilona

1975  

Phaedra Britannica

Phaedra

1974  

Pygmalion

Eliza Doolittle

1973  

The Misanthrope

Celimene

1972  

Macbeth

Lady Macbeth

1972  

'Tis A Pity She's A Whore

Hippolita

1972  

Jumpers

Dottie Moore

1970  

Abelard and Heloise

Heloise

1966  

Twelfth Night

Viola

1963  

The Physicists

Nurse Monica Stettler

1962  

King Lear

Cordelia

1962  

A Comedy of Errors

Adriana

1962  

Macbeth

Lady Macduff

1962  

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Helena

1962  

The Art of Seduction

President de Tourvel

1961  

The Taming of the Shrew

Bianca

1961  

Beckett

Gwendolen

1961  

The Devils

Philippe Trincant

1961  

Ondine

2nd Ondine/Violanta/Berthe

1960  

The Duchess of Malfi

Lady

1960  

A Winter's Tale

Lady

1960  

Troilus and Cressida

Andromache

1960  

The Taming of the Shrew

Wench

1960  

Merchant of Venice

Lady

1959  

Two Gentlemen of Verona

Lady

1959  

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Attendant

1959  

King Lear

Attendant

1959  

Coriolanus

Roman Citizen

1959  

Othello

Citizen

1959  

Alls Well That Ends Well

Lady

1958  

The Passing of The Third Floor Back

Vivian

1957  

The Fruits of Enlightenment

Anna Pavlovna-Zvezdintseva

1957  

The Caucasian Chalk Circle

Natasha Abashwilli

 

 Film

2005  

Heidi

Grandmama

2002  

Cannon Movie Tales: Cinderella

Lady Maude Triklay

1998  

Parting Shots

Lisa

1994  

A Good Man in Africa

Chloe Fanshawe

1993  

Genghis Cohn

Frieda von Stangel

1987  

Snow White

Evil Queen

1982  

Evil Under the Sun

Arlena Marshall

1981  

The Great Muppet Caper

Lady Holiday

1977  

A Little Night Music

Charlotte Mittelheim

1973  

Theatre of Blood

Edwina Lionheart

1971  

The Hospital

Barbara Drummond

1970  

Julius Caesar

Portia

1969  

On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Tracy Vincenzo

1969  

The Assassination Bureau

Miss Winters

1968  

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Helena

1962  

Our Man in the Caribbean

 

 Teleplays/TV Movies

2003  

Charles II: The Power and the Passion

Queen Henrietta Maria

2003  

Murder In Mind

Jill Craig

1999  

The American

Madame de Bellegarde

1999  

The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries: The Speedy Death

Mrs. Adela Bradley

1997  

Rebecca

Mrs. Danvers

1996  

Samson and Delilah

Mara

1996  

The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders

Mrs. Golightly

1995  

The Haunting of Helen Walker
a.k.a. The Turn of the Screw

Mrs. Grose

1995  

Danielle Steel's Zoya

Countess Evgenia

1994  

Running Delilah

Judith

1992  

Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris

Mme. Colbert

1987  

A Hazard of Hearts

Lady Harriet Vulcan

1987  

Unexplained Laughter

Lydia

1986  

The Worst Witch

Miss Hardbroom

1984  

King Lear

Regan

1982  

Little Eyolf

Rita Allmers

1982  

Witness for the Prosecution

Christine Vole

1980  

The Marquise

Eloise La Marquise d'Casternell

1975  

In This House of Brede

Dame Phillipa

1970  

Saturday Night Theatre: "Married Alive"

Liz Jardine

1965  

Blood & Thunder: "Women Beware Women"

1965  

Armchair Theatre: "The Hothouse"

1964  

The Comedy of Errors

Adriana

 

 TV Series

2001  

Victoria and Albert (miniseries)

Baroness Lehzen

2000  

In the Beginning (miniseries)

Mature Rebeccah

1999  

The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries

Mrs. Adela Bradley

1989  

Mother Love (miniseries)

Helena Vesey

1985  

Bleak House (miniseries)

Lady Dedlock

1984  

Held In Trust - A Video Guide to Scotland

Presenter

1981  

Hedda Gabler

1980  

Mystery!

Hostess

1979  

Oresteia, a.k.a The Serpent Son (miniseries)

Kytamnestra

1977  

Three Piece Suite (six-part sketch series)

Main Performer

1973  

Diana

Diana Smythe

1965  

The Avengers

Emma Peel

 

 TV Guest Appearances

2006  

Extras

Herself

1990  

Road to Avonlea

"The Disappearance"

Lady Blackwell

1975  

Morecambe & Wise Christmas Show

Herself

1964  

The Comedy of Errors

Adriana

1963  

The Sentimental Agent

"A Very Desirable Plot"

Francy

 

 Corporate Video

2001  

The Theatre Museum, Covent Garden

Presenter/Narrator

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