Diana Rigg

Biography of Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg (Star of Game Of Thrones)

Birth and early life:

Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg DBE (20th July 1938 – 10th September 2020) was an English and screen actress. Rigg was born in Doncaster, which was in the West Riding of Yorkshire, in 1938, to Louis Rigg (1903–1968) and Beryl Hilda (née Helliwell; 1908–1981); her father was a railway engineer. In the early years of her childhood, Rigg lived in Bikaner, Rajasthan, India, where her father was employed as a railway executive in the Bikaner State Railway.


She was sent back to England to attend the boarding school, named Fulneck Girls School. She did not like her school much but believed that Yorkshire played a more significant part in shaping her character than India. Diana was trained as an actress since her childhood, where her classmates included Glenda Jackson and Siân Phillips.

Theater career and Nominees:

Rigg’s career in theater was too vast, including roles in the Royal Shakespeare Company between 1959 and 1967. Her professional appearance was as Natasha Abashwilli in the RADA production in 1957.

She came back to the stage in 1970 in the Ronald Millar play and made her Broadway debut in the next year, earning the first of three Tony Award nominations for Best Actress a Play.

In 1982, Rigg appeared in the musical Colette, created by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, but it closed during an American tour en route to Broadway. In 1987, she took the leading role in the West End production Follies. She had triumphed with positions in 1990 at the Almeida Theatre, including Medea in 1992 ( she was given the Tony Award in 1994), Mother Courage at the National Theatre, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? In 1995.

Further, in 2004, Rigg appeared also the Violet Venable in Sheffield production of Williams’s play, which transferred to the Albery Theatre. In 2006, she appeared in London’s West End in a drama. Moreover, in 2007, she appeared in the Old Vic’s production of All About My Mother, based on the film of the same title directed by Pedro Almodóvar.

In 2011, she played in Pygmalion at the Garrick Theatre.

In 2018, she returned to Broadway in Mrs. Higgins’s non-singing role in My Fair Lady. She received her fourth Tony nomination for this role.

Television career and her dropout:

Rigg appeared in the British television series The Avengers, replacing Elizabeth Shepherd at concise notice when Shepherd was dropped from the role after filming two episodes. Rigg auditioned for the position on a whim, without ever having seen the program. In 2019, Rigg said in the interview that becoming a adorable symbol overnight had offended her. Diana didn’t admire how she was treated by the production company Associated British Corporation (ABC).

Depressed by the people in the industry:

For her second series, she held out for a pay rise from £150 a week to £450; she said in 2019—that “not one woman in the industry supported me, neither did Patrick.” But Diana was depicted as this grasping creature when all she wanted was equality. It’s so depressing for her that we are still talking about the gender pay gap.

Film career:

Diana Rigg even enjoyed her career in film. She became a Bond girl, on the big screen, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), playing Tracy Bond, James Bond’s only wife, opposite George Lazenby. She took the role, hoping that she would become better known in the United States. In 1973, she starred in a short-lived US sitcom called Diana.

In 1981 Diana received praise for her achievement as Arlena Marshall in the film adaptation of Agatha Christie.

She played the Evil Queen, Snow White’s evil stepmother, in the Cannon Movie Tales’s film adaptation of Snow White. In 1989, she played in Mother Love for the BBC; won Rigg the 1990 BAFTA for Best Television Actress.

In 1995, she appeared in the film correspondence for Television based on Danielle Steel as Evgenia.

In 2000 the BBC series, she played Gladys Mitchell’s detective.

From 1989 to 2003, Diana hosted the television series, shown by PBS broadcaster WGBH.

In 2013, she appeared in the Victorian-era based story Doctor Who called “The Crimson Horror” with her daughter Rachael Stirling, Matt Smith, and Jenna-Louise Coleman. It wasn’t the preeminent time mother-daughter had appeared in the same production – that was in the 2000 NBC film – but the first time she had worked with her daughter.

In the same year, 2002, Diana was appointed in the third season of the HBO series Game of Thrones, which made her more famous for that recurring role, portraying Lady Olenna Tyrell, a witty and sarcastic political leader popularly known as the Queen of Thorns. Her performance was well-received by critics and audiences alike and earned her an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2013. She reprised her role in the 4th season of Game of Thrones, received another nomination. In 2015 and 2016, she again played a role in seasons five and six, and the character was killed off in the seventh season.

Personal life:

In 1960, Rigg lived with director Philip Saville for about eight years, when she abandoned interest in marrying the older and married Saville. She was then married to Menachem Gueffen in 1973, an Israeli painter until their divorce in 1976. Mr. Stirling, the producer and also former officer in the Scots Guards, of 25 March 1982 until they got divorced in 1990 after his affair with the actress Joely. With Stirling, Rigg had a daughter, actress Rachael Stirling, born in 1977, five years before their marriage.

She was also declared as chancellor of the University of Stirling and was succeeded by James Naughtie when her 10-year term of office ended on 31 July 2008.

Michael interviewed Rigg and called her the most desirable woman he ever met. Diana was a smoker from the age of 18, Rigg was still smoking 20 cigarettes a day. By December 2017, she had stopped smoking after a severe illness led to heart surgery two months earlier.

In a 2015 interview with the website The A.V. Club, Rigg talked about her chemistry with Patrick Macnee despite their 16-year age difference: “I sort of vaguely knew Patrick Macnee, and he looked kindly on me and husbanded me through the first couple of episodes. And we’d then improvise, write our lines. Particularly our scenes when we were finding another dead body. How do you get around that one? They allowed us to do it.” Asked if she had stayed in touch with Macnee: “You’ll always be close to somebody that you worked with very intimately, and you become fond of each other. But we haven’t seen each other for a pretty long time.”

Diana’s first grandchild, named Jack (born to Rachael and Elbow), was born in April 2017.

Awards and nominations:

Diana received her Honorary degrees from England and Scotland in different years. She enjoyed her theater career by playing different roles in numerous television series and films. She was nominated for more than 25 awards and won many of them.

Honour Award:

In 2014, Rigg received the Will Award, presented by the Shakespeare Company.

To consider 50 years of Emma Peel, in 2015, the BFI (British Film Institute) concealed an episode of The Avengers, followed by an interview with Rigg.


Rigg died in London on 10 September 2020, at the age of 82. Her daughter, Rachael, said that the cause of death was cancer, with which Rigg had been diagnosed in March.

Overview about the life of Diana Rigg:

Diana was born on the 20th of July, 1938, in Doncaster. Her parents were Louis Rigg and Beryl Hilda. At the early stage of her life, she lived in India with her parents due to her father’s job. He was employed as a railway executive. Other than the native language, she also spoke Hindi in those years. Later on, she was sent to England to attend boarding school. She was encouraged as an actress at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. And then she began her theater career by working for different roles in Television and films. Diana became famous for the television series The Avengers (1961-69). She got married to an Israeli painter, Menachem Gueffen, in 1973 until she got divorced in 1976. She had a daughter with Stirling, actress Rachael Stirling, born in 1977, five years before their marriage.

Diana received her Honorary degrees from Scotland and England throughout different years. Shining Star of Avengers enjoyed her theater career by playing different roles in various television series and films. Diana Rigg was selected the CBE in 1988 and a Dame in 1994 for services to the drama industry. She played more than 30 theater roles since 1957-2018. She played a vital role in television series. She was part of more than 35 series, from 1959 to 2020. She was cast for more than 15 films. She was nominated for more than 25 awards and won many of them.

Diana is well known for the Game of Thrones from season three onwards. In April 2019, she said she had never watched Game of Thrones before or after her time.

At the last stage of her life, she was diagnosed with an incurable disease. This year, in March, she was diagnosed with cancer. She died at her home in London at the age of 82.

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