For most people, their favorite thing about Diana Rigg apart from her prowess as an actress, is her beauty and the will to ward off being pushed around. The English actress vastly known for portraying Emma Peel in the espionage British television series, The Avengers, was voted by United States’ TV Guide as the sexiest-ever TV star. Way back in 2003, she dragged Britain’s Daily Mail and Evening Standard newspapers to court for labeling her a resentful woman with little regards for British men. She walked away with over $197,000 paid for damages at the end of the day.
Named Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg after she was birthed on the 20th of July 1938 in Doncaster, located in West Riding of Yorkshire, England, this actress spent her early life in Bikaner, India, which was where her engineer father worked as a railway executive. Since she kicked off her professional acting career in 1957, playing Natella Abashwilli in the theatre production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle, her acting credits have come to include several scores of roles in film, television, and theatre. This has earned her dozens of prestigious accolades out of which she has won more than a handful.
In 1990, she won the Broadcasting Press Guild Award and the BAFTA TV Award; a few years later (in 1992), she received the Evening Standard Award and the Tony Award which was followed by another Evening Standard Award in 1996 and an Emmy Award the following year (1997). That’s not all, Diana Rigg has received honorary degrees from Stirling and Leeds Universities, respectively in 1988 and in 1992. More to that, she was honored as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1988 and a Dame Commander of the Order sometime in June 1994.
Disregarding the foregoing, there are a good number of other interesting facts to know about the English actress, some of which are discussed below.
Interesting Facts About Diana Rigg
1. She Has Been Married Twice
The actress admired for her deep-but-smooth voice got married twice but they all ended in divorce. Her first husband was Menachem Gueffen, an Israeli artist she married in 1973. For reasons that have remained a secret, her marriage to Gueffen didn’t survive more than 3 years. They divorced in 1976 with Diana moving on to Archie Stirling in 1982 and Gueffen making Judy Hillman his wife in 1987. While Gueffen and Hillman are still together, the Archie-Diana union collapsed in 1990. As with her first marriage, hardly can anyone tell what brought Diana’s second marriage to an end.
2. Acting Nude On Stage Began With Her
Okay, maybe not with her precisely, but her name will surely pop up if you attempt to trace the genesis of actors performing unclad. Widely regarded as the first major actor to act nude on stage, Diana Rigg once related that the nude scene she did with actor Keith Mitchell in 1971 was horribly received, earning her nasty and mean criticism. According to her, this was because they were the first established actors to bare it all.
3. She Almost Smoked Her Heart Out
It is said that Diana Rigg started smoking when she was 18 and fell so much in love with cancer stick to such extent she was smoking up to 20 cigarettes per day. She kept up with this habit for long and only gave up smoking in 2017 after she faced health issues that warranted a heart surgery. The actress said her heart stopped during the surgery but “the good lord” restored it.
4. She Believes Theater of Blood Is The Best Film She’s Starred In
Even as this English actress gained global fame for playing Emma Peel in The Avengers, she regards her role in 1973’s horror comedy film, Theater of Blood, as one of her favorite works. For her, it’s the best film she’s been a part of. In the British film directed by Douglas Hickox, she played Edwina Lionheart, the daughter of a Shakespearean actor who helped her father to murder his critics one after the other.
5. She Doesn’t Believe In Feminism
Irrespective of the fact that Diana Rigg agitated for parity earlier on in her career, she has maintained that she is not a feminist. In fact, she once expressed that women who disapprove of traditional courtesies like men opening doors for them in the name of feminism are stupid.
Bonus Fact: Diana Rigg’s marriage to Archie Stirling saw the birth of a daughter (Rachael Stirling) in 1977. Rachael is also an actress and has starred alongside her mom a handful of times.