Was any TV actress ever sexier than the 5'8" Diana Rigg, wearing her black leather bodysuit while playing
Emma Peel in "The Avengers"? It may not have been the best showcase for her talent, but it certainly left a lasting
As a child, Rigg lived with her family in India for six years. Years later, after studying at the
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, she became a lead actress with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Turning to TV
and movies to pay the bills, she began with "The Avengers" in 1965. She disliked the fame and attention the role brought
her, and to add insult to injury, midway through her first season she found out she was being paid less than the cameraman!
(For her second season, her pay increased from 90 to 180 pounds a week -- still nothing to write home about.) She got
two Emmy nominations for the role, quitting after the second year.
In 1968, the Royal Shakespeare Company was cast in an outstanding made-for-TV version of "A Midsummer
Night's Dream"; Rigg played Helena. (Her co-stars included Helen Mirren and a barely-clothed Judi Dench.) The
next year, Rigg became arguably the loveliest of all the Bond girls, in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service". (Apart from
that, though, she generally turned down Emma-Peel-like roles, in an attempt to avoid being typecast.) Since
then, Rigg has been seen in 1971's "The Hospital" (with George C. Scott), 1973's "Theater of Blood" (with Vincent Price,
who she would replace nearly twenty years later as host of PBS' "Mystery" series), and 1981's "The Great Muppet Caper"
(!), as well as some well-received TV productions such as "King Lear", "Bleak House", and "Victoria and Albert". She's
maintained her love of the stage, describing herself as a "theatre animal" and appearing in productions despite the low pay
and exhausting hours.
In 1983, Dame Diana Rigg (she was given the title of Dame shortly after winning a Tony Award for "Medea"
in 1994) published a highly-praised book, "No Turn Unstoned: The Worst Ever Theatrical Reviews".
|from "On Her Majesty's Secret Service"