Diana Rigg, best known for playing Emma Peel in the 1960s British TV espionage thriller The Avengers, passed away on Thursday at the age of 82 in London, according to her daughter Rachael Stirling.
Rigg was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year.
Stirling wrote, “My Beloved Ma died peacefully in her sleep early this morning, at home, surrounded by family. 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.”
She is also best known for her role as Olenna Tyrell in the HBO show Game of Thrones for which she earned four Emmy nominations.
Rigg was originally a stage actor who worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company. In 1991, she told NPR that she loved watching the faces of the audience when she is acting.
She said, “They’re my inspiration. I absolutely adore it. Obviously, sometimes they aren’t when they’re scratching themselves or falling asleep, but largely, I think you can’t beat a live audience.”
Rigg played the only woman to get James Bond to the altar in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. She also played the role of Lady Holiday in The Great Muppet Caper specifically for her daughter Rachael. Rigg won an Emmy for her role as Mrs. Danvers on the PBS Masterpiece miniseries Rebecca.
Her roles in film and television grew but she always returned to theater.
Theatre Director Jonathan Kent said, “Diana Rigg’s combination of force of personality, beauty, courage and sheer emotional power, made her a great classical actress. Her dazzling wit and that inimitable voice made her an unforgettable leading figure in British theater.” David Hare, Rigg’s agent provided to NPR, wrote, “Diana Rigg had a dazzling change of direction in middle age as a great classical actor. When Emma Peel played Euripides’ Medea, Albee’s Martha and Brecht’s Mother Courage she swept all before her.”