British actress Dame Diana Rigg passed away in the privacy of her home on the morning of September 10th, as reported by Variety. Rigg’s daughter Rachael Stirling revealed that her mother was diagnosed with cancer in March, via The Huffington Post U.K.
The late actress’s breakout screen role came about in 1965, when she was cast in the fourth season of ITV’s spy show The Avengers as martial arts expert and scientific genius Emma Peel. Honor Blackman, who had played the role of Dr. Cathy Gale, departed after the third season to play Bond girl Pussy Galore in Goldfinger, according to The Hollywood Reporter. In a 2015 interview with The A.V. Club, Rigg mentioned that she had spent half a decade with the Royal Shakespeare Company before leaving to audition for The Avengers: “I knew that in order to develop further, I had to leave, and I was lucky enough to get The Avengers.” Her two-season run as Emma Peel established her as a British fashion icon and earned her two Primetime Emmy nominations. Like Blackman before her, Rigg’s departure from the show coincided with a big-screen outing in the form of a James Bond film; she played opposite George Lazenby’s Agent 007 as his wife Tracy Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Rigg enjoyed over half a century of screen stardom during her lifetime, with roles in sketch shows (Three Piece Suite), NBC sitcoms (Diana), historical dramas (The Last King, Victoria), miniseries based on classic literature (Bleak House, Rebecca), and much more besides. She also hosted the crime anthology series Mystery! on PBS from 1989 to 2004, taking over for Vincent Price, who had previously starred alongside her in the 1973 horror film Theater of Blood.
Dame Diana was nominated for a Primetime Emmy four times for her role as Lady Olenna Tyrell on HBO’s Game of Thrones. She expressed her enthusiasm for the role during a 2016 interview on the BBC News program HARDtalk: “I was deeply grateful to get the part, and to get such a good part too. I really enjoy doing it.” In a 2019 conversation with Entertainment Weekly, Rigg credited the award-winning fantasy show with introducing her to a new generation of television viewers: “The young, I don’t expect them to know about my past, but if, through Game of Thrones, they discover me, that’s good.” Rigg’s co-star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jamie Lannister) posted his tribute on Instagram upon hearing of her passing.
Rigg was made a dame in 1994, and was eighty-two years old at the date of her death.