‘Avengers,’ Bond Star Diana Rigg Dies @ 82

Diana Rigg, iconic since her Avengers role in the '60s, has died at 82, The Guardian reports.

The fashion of it all! (GIF via GIPHY)

Rigg's death was announced via statement by her agent, which read:

"It is with tremendous sadness that we announce that Dame Diana Rigg died peacefully early this morning. She was at home with her family who have asked for privacy at this difficult time. Dame Diana was an icon of theatre, film, and television. She was the recipient of BAFTA, Emmy, Tony and Evening Standard Awards for her work on stage and screen. Dame Diana was a much loved and admired member of her profession, a force of nature who loved her work and her fellow actors. She will be greatly missed."

The cause, THR reports, was cancer. Rigg received the diagnosis in March and, according to her actress daughter Rachael Stirling, she "spent her last months joyfully reflecting on her extraordinary life, full of love, laughter and a deep pride in her profession. I will miss her beyond words."

A star of stage, screen and TV, she was made a CBE in 1988 and a Dame in 1994.

Born July 20, 1938, in Doncaster, West Riding of Yorkshire, England, Rigg spent part of her childhood in India, and studied drama at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (1955-1957).

At the end of her studies she debuted professionally in 1957 in The Caucasian Chalk Circle at the York Festival.

Her early filmed work was for television, including her debut in a 1959 TV version of A Midsummer Night's Dream. She often played classical characters, but segued firmly into the mainstream with her indelible performance as sexy Emma Peel on 51 episodes of TV's The Avengers from 1965-1968. She was the third "girl" on the show, but by far the one most associated with it.

Her rise as a sex symbol (those leather catsuits!) was both unplanned and unwelcome, as was the pay inequity — she earned far less than her co-star Patrick Macnee (1922-2015), who she later called "incredibly kind," and complained about it, but found herself unsupported in her cause.

Was there ever a cooler series? (GIF via GIPHY)

So, after just two seasons, she left. The Rigg-less series ended the following year.

Rigg made her movie debut as Helena in a middling adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream (1968), and was the central character in the thriller The Assassination Bureau (1969) before cementing her icon status as Bond Girl Tracy — the womanizing character's only wife — in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969). The film is notorious for being George Lazenby's (b. 1939) solo Bond flick, but to some represents the very best in the series.

Ill-fated marriage (Image via UA)

Her film work was richly varied, including playing Portia in Julius Caesar (1970) opposite Charlton Heston (1923-2008), Jason Robards (1922-2000) and Sir John Gielgud (1904-2000); starring in the Paddy Chayefsky (1923-1981)-scripted drama The Hospital (1971) opposite George C. Scott (1927-1999); gamely joining the macabre Theatre of Blood (1973) with Vincent Price (1911-1993); and popping up in The Great Muppet Caper (1981).

She also tried her hand at U.S. situation comedy with the short-lived Diana (1973-1974).

One of her juiciest film roles was as self-absorbed sexpot movie queen Arlena in the Agatha Christie murder mystery Evil Under the Sun (1982), a role that capitalized on her ripening beauty and her ability to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Peter Ustinov (1921-2004) as Hercule Poirot and fellow dame Maggie Smith (b. 1934).

Medea — possibly her greatest achievement of all (Image via still)

Rigg won a BAFTA for the BBC's Mother Love (1989) and an Emmy as Mrs. Danvers in a TV reimagining of Rebecca (1997). Throughout her career, she returned to the theater, including Tony-nominated turns in Abelard and Heloïse (1971), The Misanthrope (1975) and as Mrs. Higgins in My Fair Lady (2018). She won her Tony for Medea (1994), and was acclaimed in such productions as Follies (1987) on London's West End, Mother Courage (1995) at the National Theatre and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1995) at the Almeida.

One of Rigg's most high-profile gigs was hosting the PBS series Mystery! from 1989-2003.

Toward the end of her illustrious television career, Rigg was thunderously well-received as Lady Olenna Tyrell aka the Queen of Thorns on HBO's phenomenon Game of Thrones (2013-2017) ... a show for which she was twice Emmy-nominated, and a show she confessed she never watched.

Rigg was married and divorced twice — to painter Menachem Gueffen (b. circa 1930) and producer Archie Stirling (b. 1941). She is survived by her daughter Rachael by Stirling.

RIP, Queen! (GIF via GIPHY)

Rigg never stopped working, and will be seen later this year in the miniseries Black Narcissus, her final project.

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