Dame Diana Rigg, Order of the British Empire (born 20 July 1938), born Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg, is an England actor.
Rigg was born in the South Yorkshire town of DoncasterBBC South Yorkshire, Meet... Dame Diana Rigg. Url accessed on 14 July, 2006., to Beryl Helliwell and Louis Rigg, a newspaperman who had been born in Yorkshire. She lived in India between the ages of two and eight and then went to school at the Fulneck school in Fulneck Moravian Settlement near Pudsey in Leeds.
Rigg is particularly known for her role in the British 1960s television series The Avengers (TV series), where she played the sexy secret agent Emma Peel. Her career in film, television and the theatre has been wide-ranging, including roles in the Royal Shakespeare Company between 1959 and 1964. Her professional debut was in The Caucasian Chalk Circle in 1955.
Rigg tried out for the role of Emma Peel on a whim, without ever having seen the programme. Although she was hugely successful in the role, she did not like the lack of privacy that television brought. She also did not like the way that she was treated by Associated British Corporation; after a dozen episodes she discovered that she was being paid less than the cameraman. For the second series she held out for a raise in pay (from 90 to 180 pounds a week), but there was still no question of her staying for a third year. Patrick Macnee, her co-star in the series, noted that Rigg had later told him that she considered him and her driver to be her only friends on the set. http://www.mindspring.com/~jglane/riggbio.htm
After leaving The Avengers she appeared as the title character in the telemovie The Marquise, which was based on a play by Noel Coward.
She also returned to the stage, including playing two Tom Stoppard leads, Ruth Carson in Night and Day (play) and Dorothy Moore in Jumpers. A nude scene with Keith Michell in Abelard and Heloise led to a notorious description of her as 'built like a brick mausoleum with insufficient flying buttresses', by the acerbic Serbian-American critic John Simon (critic). In 1986, she took a leading role in the West End theatre production of Stephen Sondheim's musical Follies.
On the big screen she became a Bond girl in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (film) (1969), playing Tracy Bond, James Bond's only wife. The experience was not a happy one, due to a personality clash with James Bond actor George Lazenby. She has often spoken candidly, but amusingly, about the clashes they had on set, and Lazenby himself is now philosophical about this period of his life. Her other films include The Assassination Bureau (1969), The Hospital (1971), Theatre of Blood (in which she plays Vincent Price's daughter) (1973), and A Little Night Music (1977). In the 1980s, after reading stinging reviews of a stage performance she had given, Rigg was inspired to compile the worst theatrical reviews she could find into a tongue-in-cheek (and best-selling) compilation, entitled No Turn Unstoned. In 1989, she played Helena 'Nell' Vesey in Mother Love (TV series) for the BBC. Her superb potrayal of an obsessive mother who was prepared to do anything to keep control of her son—even resorting to murder—was enough to win Diana the 1989 BAFTA for best actress.
This role, and a subsequent one as the widow of an SS officer, showed that Dame Diana has a remarkable talent to play tongue-in-cheek cruel and sinister persons.
In the 1990s she had triumphs with roles at the Almeida Theatre in Islington (North London), including Medea (play) in 1993 (for which she received the Best Actress Tony Award), Mother Courage in 1995 and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1996. On television she has appeared as "Mrs Danvers" in Rebecca (1997 film) and as the amateur detective "Mrs Bradley" in the The Mrs Bradley Mysteries. In this series, first aired in 2000, she played Gladys Mitchell's detective, Dame Beatrice Adela Le Strange Bradley, an eccentric old woman who worked for Scotland Yard as a pathologist. Sadly, despite good central performances—particularly from Dame Diana herself, who would, to great comic effect, address the camera directly (sample dialogue, delivered direct to camera: "There are three golden rules to bringing up children...sadly no-one knows what they are...) the series was not a critical success and did not return for a second season.
From 1989 until 2003 she hosted the PBS television series Mystery!, taking over from Vincent Price, her co-star from Theatre of Blood. Her TV career in America has been varied; most famously she starred in her own comedy series Diana (TV series) which was not a success.
Dame Diana has continued to perform on stage in London, the latest play being a drama entitled Honour (play) which had a limited but successful run in 2006.
Although she does not consider herself a singer, her performances in A Little Night Music, Follies and other stage musicals have been well received by audiences and critics alike. She performed a wonderful song and dance routine in the Agatha Christie film, Evil Under The Sun and made a highly memorable appearance with Morecambe and Wise in 1976, in which she played Nel Gwynne in a musical pastiche, joining Eric and Ernie to sing How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Loved You When You Know I've Been A Liar All My Life.
She also appeared in the second series of Ricky Gervais's hit comedy Extras (TV series).
She lived with Philip Saville for some time, but would not marry him (he was married already). She did marry Menachem Gueffen, an Israeli painter, which lasted from 1973 to 1976, and Archibald Stirling, a theatrical producer, former officer in the Scots Guards and a member of one of Scotland's grandest families, which lasted from 1982 to 1990. By Stirling she has a daughter, the actress Rachael Stirling, who was born in 1977.
Diana Rigg was created a Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1988 and raised to Dame Commander (DBE) in 1994.
Patrick Macnee, her co-star in The Avengers (TV series), described Diana Rigg in a July 2006 documentary on BBC 4 as "Just like an angel coming down from heaven."
Courtesy of: http://www.wikipedia.org/