Thursday, September 10, 2020

Another Icon Passes

I was disheartened to read of the death of Dame Diana Rigg, star of stage and screen, author/editor, and raconteuse.  Like most males born in the late 20th century, and beyond, I am most familiar with her work in campy 1960s espionage romp The Avengers where her iconic 'Emma Peel' combined a gaminesque prettiness with perfect comic timing and the lethality of a wuxia protagonist.  This ensured her status as an international icon... I can't even begin to imagine how many fetishes this one scene embodies:


If it ticks off any boxes for you, please note it in the comments.

No mere sex symbol, Diana Rigg always exuded intelligence and competence as well as erotic appeal.  All throughout, she also radiated a playfulness, in keeping with the campy nature of the show.  Diana Rigg was kinda what Audrey Hepburn would have been if she had been an action star (not that big a stretch, given her ballet experience).  She even looked dazzling in dazzle camouflage:

As Emma Peel, she formed a bridge between real-life heroines such as Edith Garrud and Miss May Whitley, and the now-ubiquitous Action Girls such as Lara Croft, Okoye, and Black Widow.

It was criminal that someone so central to the success of the show was underpaid, earning less than a cameraman.

I have to confess that I haven't seen Diana Rigg in any stage presentations, but I do note that her acting debut was playing a part in Brecht's I have to confess that I haven't seen Diana Rigg in any stage presentations, but I do note that her acting debut was playing a part in Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle, one of my favorite plays, and that she subsequently joined the Royal Shakespeare Company... she would have been great in a hypothetical kung-fu Hamlet ("Alas, poor Yorick, his kung-fu was not all that good..."). She did rack up an impressive collection of Tony and Emmy awards. I have to say that I'm not that familiar with her work on the big screen, but she did take a deliciously villainous turn as Vincent Price's daughter/accomplice in the camp-horror classic Theatre of Blood. She was also an accomplished angler, and in a wonderful and witty interview, she compared dry fly fishing to acting. I Do have to confess that I'm primarily a Diana Rigg fanboy for all of the wrong reasons, but even at her most fetishized, she still managed to be both fierce and funny: 



 Sure, that's pure fanservice, but what's wrong with being sexy? At any rate, Diana Rigg's career was both groundbreaking and far-ranging. She played the ingenue, the action girl, the tragic heroine, the villainess, the dowager in a career spanning seven decades. As far as icons go, I can think of few more influential ones, if any.


Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

This just popped into my head... there are few problems that can't be solved with a well-placed kick and an arch smile.

Anathema Device said...

[psst, check the para that starts "I have to confess"]

I can't remember actually seeing Dame Diana Rigg in anything at all, but her position in British culture is such that you can't avoid knowing about her if you spend any lengthy time in the UK.

82 is a decent age, but a death from cancer is always to be regretted. Her wonderful, talented and eerily lookalike daughter, Rachel Stirling, is bereft, but the Rigg magic is safe in her hands as she bewitches a much younger generation.

George Lazenby, whom Rigg apparently loathed, greeted her death with a tweet that, true to multiple stories about his overweening ego, made it about him:

"She undoubtedly raised my acting game when we made On Her Majesty’s Secret Service together in 1968-9."

Which is an insult the great dame surely didn't deserve! (I apologise to her ghost for my sod of a countryman.)

Vale Diana. Not many women get to be so beloved in this world, or for so long. My sympathies to her family.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Thanks, that's what I get when I jump between compose and html modes to properly embed images and videos. This new interface is garbage.

Bea said...

If you've not yet seen the show, I would recommend your watching The Detectorists. It stars Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones. Rachel Stirling plays Crook's wife on the show & Rigg plays Rachel's character's mother. Fun fact: Diana Rigg is actually Rachel Stirling's mother IRL!