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Dame Diana Rigg: 'Game of Thrones' star and Bond girl dies aged 82

'The Avengers' actress passed away six months after being diagnosed with cancer

Dame Diana Rigg, one of Britain's longest-working and most distinguished actresses, has died aged 82.

The Doncaster-born star passed away on Thursday, September 10, six months after being diagnosed with cancer.

The news was confirmed by her agent, Simon Beresford, who said the Game of Thrones actress died "peacefully this morning".

"She was at home with her family who have asked for privacy at this difficult time," the statement said. "Dame Diana was an icon of theatre, film and television."

The actress was perhaps best known for her role in 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service, in which she played James Bond's wife Countess Teresa di Vicenzo, as well as playing Emma Peel in TV series The Avengers.

Rigg also portrayed plotting matriarch Olenna Tyrell in HBO epic Game of Thrones.

"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," Beresford added.

Rigg was also a doyenne of theatre as well as the small and silver screens, and garnered a number of awards during her lengthy career.

A handout photo of Diana Rigg in" Game of Thrones" (Courtesy: OSN)
Diana Rigg in 'Game of Thrones'. Courtesy OSN

She won the 1994 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her role in Medea, an Emmy Award for her role as Mrs Danvers in a 1997 adaptation of Rebecca, and a Bafta for Best Actress for her work in BBC miniseries Mother Love (1989).

"My beloved Ma died peacefully in her sleep early this morning, at home, surrounded by family," her daughter, Rachael Stirling, said in a statement.

"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."

Born in 1938, Rigg spent several years of her childhood in India, where her father worked as a railway executive. She later studied at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, making her professional debut in a Rada production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle in 1957.

She worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre Company, and acted in both London's West End and New York's Broadway. Rigg most recently treaded the boards in 2018's Broadway production of My Fair Lady.

On screen, she rose to fame playing secret agent Peel in The Avengers before making her Hollywood breakthrough opposite George Lazenby in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Rigg also made cameos in hit shows such as Extras, Doctor Who and Victoria.

British playwright Tom Stoppard paid tribute to Rigg after her death was announced.

"For half her life Diana was the most beautiful woman in the room, but she was what used to be called a trouper," he said. "She went to work with her sleeves rolled up and a smile for everyone. Her talent was luminous."

Rigg is survived by her actress daughter Rachael, who she shared with her ex-husband Archibald Stirling. Her grandson Jack was born in 2017.

Updated: September 10, 2020 07:04 PM

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