Website last updated: 7-5-2024

In Memoriam of British actress Dame Diana Rigg (1938-2020)

By: Mark Cerulli
Diana Rigg Tracy On Her Majesty's Secret Service
FSWL joins the entire James Bond community in mourning the loss of acclaimed British actress and forever Bond's wife, Dame Diana Rigg, who passed away at age 82.

Diana Rigg who studied at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, shot to stardom in 1965 when she replaced another Bond Girl, Honor Blackman, as the female lead, Emma Peel, in The Avengers TV series– co-starring A View to a Kill (1985) alumni, Patrick Macnee. Unprepared for the demands of instant stardom, she remained on the series for just two years while also keeping her flourishing stage career going.

Like Honor Blackman, the James Bond series beckoned with a choice role – the headstrong Countess Teresa di Vicenzo (the only woman to lead Bond to the altar) in 1969’s On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) opposite the “new 007”, George Lazenby.

George Lazenby acknowledged that having such a seasoned co-star improved his acting skills. “She undoubtedly raised my acting game when we made On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1968-9. Her depth of experience really helped me.” he wrote on Instagram. Although it was a long, tough shoot rife with reported tensions, Lazenby added, “We had fun together on the set of the movie in Switzerland and Portugal.” Rigg has denied the (in)famous rumor that she ate garlic at lunch right before shooting a love scene. Lazenby laughed the rumored feud off, telling 007 Magazine in 1981, “I don’t quite remember smelling garlic on her and it was quite a lot of fun with her.” For her part, Dame Diana returned the favor, telling The New York Times in 2019 that “For someone who had never done a movie before, he was quite good.”

After Bond, Rigg starred in a number of films including The Hospital, The Muppet Caper, A Little Night Music and 1994’s A Good Man In Africa (opposite Sean Connery). Her stage work was legendary, including a turn on Broadway in 1971’s Abelard and Heloise. She also starred in productions of The Misanthrope, Jumpers, Night and Day, Follies and Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer. Recently, the fiery actress enjoyed a huge success in the wildly popular HBO fantasy series, Game of Thrones where she played the treacherous and flinty Olenna Tyrell in multiple episodes.

Dame Diana passed quietly in her sleep, surrounded by her family, including her daughter, actress Rachael Stirling.

Her Bond co-star, George Lazenby, issued a touching Instagram tribute - “The death of Contessa Teresa di Vincenzo Draco created a memorable cinema moment over 50 years ago. As my new bride, Tracy Bond, I wept for her loss. Now, upon hearing of Dame Diana's death, I weep again.”

We have all the time in the world, lovely Diana Rigg. RIP.



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