As Emma Peel, Diana Rigg Made Leather Fashionable
Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg, DBE (born 20 July 1938) is an English actress famous for playing leather-clad Emma Peel in "The Avengers." She has been active in films and theater since the 1960s, and still makes occasional television guest appearances.
|From an episode of "The Avengers" called "A Matter of Time."|
Diana Rigg was born in South Yorkshire, England, but lived in India due to her father's job working on the railways there.
Accordingly, given her background, Diana speaks fluent Hindi. Eventually, she returned to England and later enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
Rigg got the part of Emma Peel due to the the producers' being displeased with the incumbent in the role, Elizabeth Shepherd, who herself had replaced Honor Blackman.
She has said that she was unhappy during filming and that the only two friends that she had on set were her co-star, Patrick Macnee, and her driver.
|Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee got on quite well together, both in front of the camera and behind it.|
However, she always projected a sunny disposition on camera, though she was adamant about only staying on the show for two years when she could have retained the role.
Diana jumped from the spy role of Emma Peel straight to the role of girlfriend of a spy, as Countess Teresa di Vicenzo in the 1969 James Bond film "On Her Majesty's Secret Service."
|Diana tied to the tracks - who will save her?|
There was many rumors that Diana did not like her James Bond costar, George Lazenby. To this day, Diana does not have kind things to say about him.
Numerous other film roles followed, though she spent much of her time on stage.
Diana has worked steadily since her early roles, both on the stage and on television. For her service, she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by the Queen in 1994.
While her role on "The Avengers" was relatively brief, it established Diana Rigg as an iconic figure of female strength and power.
Diana's trademark leather outfits have been imitated and copied by other film productions right up until the present day, such as by Scarlett Johansson in the recent big-screen "The Avengers."
Diana Rigg continues to act. She has played Olenna Tyrell in "Game of Thrones" (2013-2017). She also recently played an appearance in television series "Breathe" as Duchess of Bucleuch, and in motion picture "Breathe" as Lady Neville.
Diana Rigg appeared on "Doctor Who," and won the Doctor Who Best Guest Actress for 2013.
Diana was born on the same date as the late Natalie Wood.
|Diana's character in this episode was the "Queen of Sin"|
Diana was a heavy smoker from age 18 to age 72, when she quit the habit.
Dame Diana received the 2014 Will Award from the Shakespeare Theatre Company.
Diana has been married and divorced twice. The first marriage was to Menachen Gueffen from 1973 to 1976, the second to Archibald Stirling from 1982 to 1990. Archie and Diana had a child together.
Rigg began collecting negative notices about her performances following her early 1970s appearance in "Abelard and Heloise." She collected them and published them in a book, "No Turn Unstoned" (1982).
Diana sued the Evening Standard and Daily Mail for libel. British courts awarded her $63,832 and $134,000 in court expenses. The papers claimed that Dame Diana was angry at British men for mistreating her.
Diana was voted the sexiest star in the history of television at one time by readers of the United States TV Guide.
|It is Steed to the rescue!|
Diana on getting older:
I am devastated at what has happened. I have completely disappeared. I am totally invisible. I never really liked my sexy label but on the other hand, to disappear so totally is quite startling.
I didn't like my Bond Girl outfits. The designer was a friend of the directors and I thought they were too boring and middle-aged for my character. The right costumes are essential for getting into a part; I've witnessed many costume parades with grumpy or even weeping actors because they've been put into the wrong thing.
|Diana is holding a snake.|
I think I was quite daring. I was once escorted out of a restaurant because I was wearing a trouser suit. It wasn't considered good breeding for a woman to go around in trousers after 6:00 pm, especially in smart restaurants and bars such as the Connaught Hotel, which served the best cocktails.
The leather catsuit I wore in The Avengers (1961) was a total nightmare; it took a good 45 minutes to get unzipped to go to the loo. It was like struggling in and out of a wet-suit. Once I got into the jersey catsuits, they were very easy to wear but you had to watch for baggy knees; there is nothing worse. I got a lot of very odd fan mail while I was in that show, but my mum used to enjoy replying to it. Some of the men who wrote to me must have been a bit startled because she would offer really motherly advice. I would get a letter from a teenage boy, say, who was overexcited and my mother would write back saying: "My daughter is far too old for you and what you really need is a good run around the block."
After becoming Chancellor of Stirling University in Scotland and a Dame:
Look at me. I'm a dame and I'm a chancellor.
Dame Diana received the 1996 London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actress for her performances in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "Mother Courage."
The older you get, I have to say, the funnier you find life. That's the only way to go. If you get serious about yourself as you get old, you are pathetic.
I think women of my age are still attractive. Men of my age aren't. They've got their cojones halfway to their knees. They have the same descent as boobs.
I don't know how your Guardian readers are going to take this, but I've had a housekeeper for 24 years [as of 2014]. So I'm well looked after. I'm a deeply spoiled woman. I make no apologies about it at all. I think they think: "Oh, poor woman, she's living on her own." Not a bit of it. My bed is turned down every night.
In those days, trousers were appallingly cut for women so I used to go to a gentlemen's tailor to have them made. Nowadays you can look at some quite highly priced clothes and be astonished at how badly they are finished. But then, people don't look for that any more, it's only old bags like me that do. When I need to look smart, I go for Armani because he's just absolutely brilliant at tailoring. I always dress for myself, not men or other women. I'm well aware of them though - you get the sweep of the eye up and down and I think: "You poor thing, are you so competitive that you have to measure yourself against everyone else?" It's so pathetic.
|Diana showed some good fighting moves as Emma Peel.|
If I meet a woman who is immaculately groomed, I really admire her discipline. I grew up admiring out-of-this-world screen goddesses, such as Ava Gardner and Rita Hayworth, but I have to acknowledge that I haven't the patience for getting dressed up very often - at my age you think: "Why bother?" Now that I'm older, I don't go to premieres or first-night parties, not even my own.
I don't go without makeup, though. I rather like that transformation in the morning from "I don't want to look in the mirror"; then you start pulling yourself together. It's a rather nice present to yourself that you can still do that.
I hope there's a tinge of disgrace about me. Hopefully, there's one good scandal left in me yet.
I made a bit of a stink. At the time, it was considered very bad form.
Yes, well, you are quite camp, so I guess that he could see the point of you.
They do say that the profession gets increasingly difficult, but my career seems to have been inside out. I'm playing the biggest parts now that I'm older. That's probably right, because I wasn't ready for them before.
Maybe at this stage in my career, it's from that younger generation that I have most to learn.
If a man holds a door open for me, or pulls back a chair so that this old bag can sit down, I’m delighted. If they put an arm around a woman and say, 'You look good today,’ they can find themselves in court. Women who carp about that are stupid. They find it belittling, but it’s just good manners.
|Diana Rigg holding a snake in character as the Queen of Sin.|
I find the whole feminist thing very boring. They are so much on the defensive that they dare not love a man because they feel assaulted by being dependent.
Dame Diana's daughter is actress Rachael Stirling. They worked together in a 2013 "Doctor Who" episode, "The Crimson Horror."
Diana has said that taking the "Avengers" role was "a perverse decision in a long line of perverse decisions."
|An odd note from the "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" set.|
I love being directed. Because it's another thought, it's another fresh idea. You're so grateful for an original idea that you haven't had.
About a television appearance:
It was so fun. And I did it for my daughter because she - the kids absolutely adored the Muppets. And I was able to.
|With her co-stars on set of "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." Diana did NOT get on well with her co-star, George Lazenby.|
The thing I absolutely hate is when directors don't know what they want, and then they ask you to do it this way, and then maybe that way, and maybe that way, because they haven't made up their minds what they want. So you're running around in circles trying to give them what they want.
A man who writes a good love letter is a man who knows how to seduce with words.
"On Her Majesty's Secret Service" was the second-lowest grossing of the six Jame Bond films up to that time. Neither Diana nor star Lazenby was asked back again by the producers. However, the producers later claimed that they fired Lazenby - they never made the same claim about Rigg.