AKA Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg
Birthplace: Doncaster, Yorkshire, England
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Actor, TV Personality
Executive summary: Mrs. Peel
Diana Rigg was a troublesome girl, born in England but raised in India, where her father worked as a railroad executive. At the age of eight, she was sent back to England for a more proper upbringing, but classes, she has said, were boring, and she was often caught daydreaming. One particularly bright teacher suggested that Rigg channel her daydreams onto the stage, and performing in a school production of Goldilocks, she knew she wanted to be an actor.
Rigg has made a career out of playing troublesome characters. She went straight from high school to the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where she made her professional debut at the age of 19. The pay, however, was meager, and she supplemented her income with work as a shopclerk, a switchboard operator, and a fashion model. At 21, she signed a five-year contract with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and when that deal expired she auditioned to spy with Patrick Macnee in The Avengers.
She stayed with the series for only two years, but her second season was aired in America as well as Britain, making Rigg a worldwide star. And she was simply smashing as the smart, sexy, widowed Mrs. Emma Peel, an expert in kung-fu, tai-chi, and other forms of hand-to-hand combat. In one understandably beloved episode, "A Touch of Brimstone", Rigg was disguised as "The Queen of Sin", to infiltrate the Hellfire Club, a clandestine group determined to topple governments through practical jokes. She wore an extremely tight Edwardian-style corset, high heeled leather boots, and a three-inch spiked collar. According to legend, that memorable outfit was not provided by the program's wardrobe department, but instead came from Ms Rigg's own closet. Rigg has a well-known aversion to brassieres, and by normal standards an obvious need for one. She says she finds them confining and uncomfortable, and rarely wears one unless it is called for in a role.
After The Avengers, Rigg returned to the stage. All through her career, with the exception of her years tethered to television series, Rigg has always been in demand as a stage actress. She has performed all the classic roles, from Bianca in The Taming of the Shrew to Cordelia in King Lear, and she won a Tony in the title role of Medea.
She was a Bond girl opposite George Lazenby in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. In the bizarre but classic The Hospital, Rigg checks her mentally-ill father into the care of suicidal doctor George C. Scott. In The Great Muppet Caper, her family jewels were stolen. In the delightful Mother Love, she played the eccentric, overbearing mother-in-law. She starred with Vincent Price in Shakespeare's Theatre of Blood, and years later she replaced Price as host of PBS's Mystery!. She has played crime-solving psychologist Adela Bradley in several "Mrs. Bradley Mysteries". She also starred as the Evil Queen in a delightfully non-Disney Snow White, with Billy Barty.
In her short-lived 1973 sitcom Diana, Macnee, Rigg's Avengers co-star, appeared in one memorable episode. He played an old flame, and they shared twinkling allusions to The Avengers. In 1982, after collecting a few bad reviews for her stage performances, Rigg edited and published No Turn Unstoned, a collection of the most vicious and undeservedly bad reviews ever written.
Rigg still speaks fluent Hindi, a souvenir of her childhood in India. She has been married and divorced twice, and her only child was born five years before she married the child's father.
Father: Louis Rigg (railroad executive)
Mother: Beryl Helliwell (homemaker)
Brother: Hugh Rigg (RAF officer, b. 1934)
Husband: Menachen Gueffen (Israeli artist, b. 1930, m. 6-Jul-1973, div. 3-Sep-1976)
Husband: Archibald Hugh Stirling (theatrical producer, dated mid-1970s, m. 25-Mar-1981, div. 31-Aug-1990)
Daughter: Rachael Atlanta Stirling (British actress, b. 30-May-1977)
Son: William Stirling (stepson, born to Stirling in earlier marriage, writer)
Son: Ludovic Stirling (stepson, born to Stirling in earlier marriage, designer)
Boyfriend: Peter Saville (graphic designer, cohabited)
High School: Fulneck Girl's School, Pudsey, Yorkshire
Conservatory: Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts
Bond Girls Tracy Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Commander of the British Empire 1987
Dame of the British Empire 1994
Tony 1994 for Medea
Risk Factors: Smoking
Mystery! Host (1989-2004)
The Avengers Emma Peel (1965-68)
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
The Painted Veil (20-Dec-2006) · Mother Superior
Broadway: The Golden Age (Apr-2003) · Herself
Victoria & Albert (26-Aug-2001)
In the Beginning (12-Nov-2000)
Parting Shots (18-Mar-1999)
Samson and Delilah (8-Dec-1996)
The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders (13-Oct-1996)
The Haunting of Helen Walker (3-Dec-1995)
A Good Man in Africa (14-Jul-1994) · Chloe
Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris (27-Dec-1992)
Mother Love (29-Oct-1989)
A Hazard of Hearts (27-Dec-1987)
The Worst Witch (1986)
Bleak House (10-Apr-1985)
King Lear (26-Jan-1984)
Witness for the Prosecution (4-Dec-1982) · Christine Vole
Evil Under the Sun (5-Mar-1982) · Arlena Marshall
The Great Muppet Caper (26-Jun-1981)
A Little Night Music (Sep-1977)
In This House of Brede (27-Feb-1975)
Theatre of Blood (5-Apr-1973)
The Hospital (14-Dec-1971) · Barbara
Julius Caesar (4-Jun-1970)
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (12-Dec-1969) · Tracy
The Assassination Bureau (10-Mar-1969)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (Sep-1968)
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