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Diana Rigg Overview
Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg is an English actress, born July 20, 1938 in Doncaster, Yorkshire. Rigg has had a long and distinguished stage career, but probably remains best known for a television and a movie role in the 1960s. She portrayed judo-chopping adventuress Emma Peel in The Avengers, the first British television show sold to the US market. Two years later, she was the female lead as Tracy Bond, the ever-so-doomed bride of super-spy James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969).
Diana Rigg Early Life
Dame Rigg was born to a landed family in Yorkshire. When she was two months old her parents, Louis and Beryl Rigg, took her to Jodhpur, India. Louis Rigg, an engineer, had accepted a position as manager of the state railway. She has a younger brother, Hugh. The outbreak of World War 2 initially prevented Rigg's parents from returning her to England. As a child, she had an Indian nanny and learned Hindi from the servants. After the war ended, her parents did what was expected of the gentry, and sent Diana back to England for schooling. She was enrolled for three years at Great Missenden school in Buckinghamshire.
"It was a matter of convenience for my parents; they thought they were doing the right thing," Rigg told The Sunday Times, adding she "felt like a fish out of water" at school. That "sense of rejection" stayed with her, and contributed to her lifelong insistence on independence, and perhaps her argumentative streak. n 1947, India re-gained its independence, and her parents returned to England. For the girl, though, it merely meant a transfer to Fulneck Girls' School in Yorkshire.
"It was tough when my parents came back from abroad and I was pulled into a family unit which, during two very formative years of my life, I had done without," she said.
A rebellious student, Rigg told the American TV Guide in 1973 that she found her classes at Moravian Fulneck to be "incredibly boring. I took to dreaming. They took to punishing me." She also developed a reputation for outspokenness to a fault. In interviews over the years, though, Rigg has consistently credited one teacher at Fulneck, Sylvia Greenwood, with helping her as "a big, lumpy girl" find an outlet in poetry and on stage. She continued to find the rest of the school constricting, in one sense literally, as the teen-age students were required to wear corsets. She graduated at 17 and immediately became engaged. But Diana quickly changed her mind and auditioned for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1955.
Diana Rigg Starting a Career
She was accepted, but soon rebelled against RADA's discipline as well. One of her roommates had a fling with the great Paul Robeson, while she waited in the next room during their encounters, according to Rigg. By her second year, Diana also was enjoying her London surroundings. She took on what at times she has described as "a dose of real life," and at other times more directly as "divers lovers." Rigg's antics raised eyebrows at RADA, and she was nearly expelled. But her talent also was evident. In 1957, she made her debut in The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Over the next two years, she continued to work in minor roles and as a stage manager.
But Rigg found her height, tall for the era, and strapping, broad-shouldered figure limited her opportunities. "I was never small enough or pretty enough" to play the standard ingenue roles, Rigg told The New York Times. To make ends meet, she worked as barmaid in a waterfront bar, where the prostitutes "would kick my legs under the table." She tried modeling, which unlike the stage was ideal for her build, but made clear that she didn't take it seriously. Arriving at photo shoots, "the stuff I wore bore no relation to the fact I was a model," she said. Unable to get an audition at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Rigg played small parts in two repertory theaters in her native Yorkshire. Finally, the RSC gave her an audition in 1959 and she was accepted. Still, her high spirits occasionally annoyed more established players. "Think of something sad," Leslie Caron snapped at her. "Think of being fired." Instead, Rigg gradually worked her way into significant roles, culminating in Cordelia to Paul Scofield's King Lear in Peter Brook's well-received production.
Although the show received good notices, Rigg was modest about her "very limited" performance as an irate, dry-eyed Cordelia. A review in Plays and Players ignored her completely. Whether from good-natured joshing or theatrical rivalries, Scofield and Rigg came away telling stories about their co-stars. Scofield's daily whey milkshakes left him flatulent, said Rigg, making it hard to play dead as he trumpeted away. Asked what advice he would give other actors playing Lear, Scofield lamented the difficulty of lugging the 135-pound Rigg around the stage, and said, "The most important thing is to get a light Cordelia." But the show was a hit, and the cast took to the road for a tour of Europe and the United States. Notables came to chat up the players, sometimes with odd effects. In the UK, Lord Mountbatten came backstage to complain about how one cast member wore spurs. Rigg's fashion sense was thoroughly modern. With little need for a bra, Rigg seldom wore one unless required for a role or photo shoot, a choice praised by Anastas Mikoyan when the show played the USSR. (A wardrobe card from this period, which appears to refer to Rigg, lists centimeter measurements of 84-66-96 and 174 height. That translates into a 33-inch bust, 26 waist, 37½ hips and 5-foot-8½ height.) In less cosmopolitan New York, though, restaurants barred Rigg for wearing pants instead of proper skirts or dresses. The director found other reasons for dissatisfaction in America, complaining about the acoustics at Lincoln Center.
Although she was now well established at RSC, Rigg elected not to return when her contract was up. In public, the reason was travel. But she had also become deeply involved with the director Philip Saville, although he was married with two children. The couple was almost obsessively secretive about their affair. When he moved in with Rigg, Saville did so by buying the unit next to hers and knocking down interior walls. Late in 1964, Diana took a step in another direction, making her television debut in an episode of the anthology series Armchair Theater. The biographical sketch released at the time by the Associated British Corp. presciently predicted the willowy actress "could have a very bright future indeed." But that praise came with qualifications, for the press release went on to note that "Diana Rigg is not a conventional beauty, and she is unusually tall." Even her apparent comedic talents carried the warning that "leading ladies with a gift for clowning do not always find their paths as smooth as those who talents fit a more conventional mould." Still, it concluded, "there is beginning to be a premium on girls who can look glamorous and toss off a witty line."
Diana Rigg The Avengers
At the same time, the British ABC struck a vein of good and bad luck with its hit show on the ITV network, The Avengers. The show, developed from a routine police procedural, had launched itself into the newly popular realm of secret agents. Successful enough in Britain, where it generally flirted with the top 10, the show also had been sold to compatible television outlets around the world. Now, a technical upgrade would allow it to be broadcast in the US. Behind the scenes, they were negotiating with the chronically low-rated American Broadcasting Company. As part of the package, Associated British Corp. agreed to put some of the proceeds into a further upgrade. The next season would switch from tape to film, albeit black-and-white. IF ABC (US) picked up the option, the season after that would be done in colour.
Conceived as a vehicle for Ian Hendry, The Avengers did not miss a beat when he left during a strike-induced production stoppage. Cast as a mysterious and occasionally menacing agent of an unidentified ministry, Patrick Macnee turned John Steed into a smooth mix of guile and style. The show tried several partners for him, and struck gold with buxom blonde Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale. Playing a strong, capable woman, Blackman learned judo for part to give her live-on-tape fight scenes more heft. When cloth outfits tended to split, she began wearing leather. It was the early Sixties. Kinkiness was king and Cathy Gale was its prophet. And then she was gone, off to that bigger spy franchise, James Bond, to play the extravagantly named P*ssy Galore.
When Blackman decided to depart, the show had a cushion, because its 1963-64 season on ITV did not conclude until the end of March. With Blackman on board, Macnee wrote in The Avengers and Me the production team could have begun work immediately on the next batch of episodes. Without her, UK ABC pursued well-known actresses; they had other commitments. The producers auditioned scores of others. Finally, the powers that be settled on Elizabeth Shepherd, a glamorous blonde with a thrilling figure in the Blackman mould.
Introducing Shepherd to the press in October 1964, producer Julian Wintle said, "She has terrific personality and good looks - all the ingredients for the series." Macnee accurately described her as "very beautiful." By December, though, after filming the better part of two episodes, they decided they had made a mistake. Various unconvincing explanations were put forth. Macnee claimed that Shepherd "flapped her arms" while running and so was not suited for an action show. A good point, until one watches stunt people taking the place of Macnee and his co-stars whenever their characters are called upon to run. It is true that while suitably curvaceous, Shepherd was several inches shorter and so less imposing than the 5'7" Blackman. "They said they welcomed my ideas for Emma _ those were fatal words," Shepherd later told the Toronto Star, claiming her tendency to offer suggestions irked producers and writers. Whatever the explanation, a leading lady was missing, the clock was ticking and the potential American customers were waiting.
The studio held another audition with scores of young actresses. Among them Diana Rigg who came "for a giggle." She still had not earned much, but had enjoyed her brief television experience. Surrounded by scores of other young actresses, all dressed in black for the audition, Rigg encountered one of the producers. True to form, she said she was probably wasting her time. He agreed. In fact, it wasn't until they had run through all the auditions, gone back to look at the tapes again and come to end of the day that the increasingly worried executives watched Rigg's again. This time, they decided she displayed an "animal quality," in Wintle's words. The next day, ABC offered Rigg the role, for as little money as they could conceive would work. They guessed right; she accepted.
For Rigg, it was like being dropped into a whirlwind. ABC immediately announced her as the new "girl." Behind schedule, the production team immediately tried to recoup. While some scenes shot without Shepherd could be salvaged, those with her had to be re-done with Rigg, as did related aspects of the production such as wardrobe. Although upgraded, some of the equipment was still less than top quality. Stringent union rules made it difficult to make up for lost time. Even the costumes proved a challenge for Diana. While Blackman had made leather gear part of the show's kinky appeal, Rigg dismissed that as "Honor's thing." Perhaps she would have been more accepting if the producers didn't insist that she slide into UK size 4 pants (US size 2), skintight on her 37-inch hips. At the same time, they were concerned about the bait-and-switch effect on their American customer after having sold a show with a buxom blonde but replaced her with a flat-chested redhead. They put Rigg into heavily padded bras in an effort to fill out her tops, and applied layers of makeup to hide her freckles. "I wasn’t all teeth and tits. It took hours and hours to make me look acceptably attractive," Rigg later told Active Life. "They constantly dab at you, which I hate. I envied those guys who walked in, had powder put on their noses and left." The challenging wardrobe added to the length of her day, and the young actress had a cot brought in so she could catch naps, while limiting herself to a piece of fruit for lunch.
Perfectly Square Shoulders
If Diana had a fan, it was the show's fashion designer, John Bates, aka Jean Varon. After she was announced as the new girl, Bates gallantly described his ideal female as slender, with long legs, perfectly square shoulders and very small breasts: Diana Rigg exactly. Still, the wardrobe department initially put Rigg into some matronly outfits when not in leather. At first, Bates told This is South Wales, Diana was not in shape for his hipper clothes.
"I looked at her and said she had to do some exercise. I wanted to put her into little bra tops and hipster trousers," Bates said. "To give her her due she did. She was wonderful — I liked her. She wasn't made up, she was natural."
Accurately assessing her own strengths, Rigg argued with the all-male brain trust to switch to mini-skirts to show off her legs, and colorful garb to take advantage of Swinging England's fashion scene.
"The designer and the other men were horrified," Rigg recalled later. "They pulled their hair ... said you can't do that, it's impossible ... I argued that one must look forward and not back and by wearing these brief skirts, one was looking forward. In fact, one was creating fashion very avant-garde, rather than remaining at the tail end of last year's styles. And it turned out that I couldn't have been more right."
The immediate response was a sort of compromise. Instead of leather, the scripts gave Bates reason to put Diana in body stockings or male garb. Capitalizing on her boyish build, he turned Rigg into a memorable Oliver Twist and a bare-legged Robin Hood. Somewhat more revealing, another episode found Diana Rigg in a thin mesh over a tiny bikini, with feathers added to round up her bust and provide marginally more cover, perhaps with American censors in mind.
If the actress gradually began winning the fashion arguments, much of her progress came after the new batch of episodes began airing in the UK in the fall of 1965. Even before the critics, viewers applauded Rigg's wonderful chemistry with Macnee. Almost instantly, her breezy style and Patrick's increasingly polished performance established a Thin Man dynamic, with cool repartee mixing with light-hearted adventure. Moreover, Diana looked smashing in a catsuit. While Rigg lacked muscles and Blackman's martial arts skill, most television fights at that time were stagey at best. Occasionally, it was obvious that stuntmen were doubling Diana in fight scenes. But even though her own moves were stylized, Rigg participated in enough inserts and cutaways to create a presence. In fact, she did more physical work than Macnee, who sat out most of the rough stuff. And Diana's modeling stint paid off. She moved well enough, and looked athletic enough, to present a portrait of grace.
Initially, many reviewers were tepid, pointing out the new character was clearly based on Cathy Gale, but lacking what one called Blackman's tigerish beauty. The studio chose to emphasize the difference from Blackman's sometimes hard edge, referring to their new girl in another press release as "younger, gayer and more feminine" than Blackman's Gale. Writing in Punch in January 1965, critic R.G. Price had some nice things to say about the show's new season, but questioned its trend toward comedy. "[H]aving decided to cash in on the cult and laugh at itself even more wildly than the Bond films, it is in danger of losing its stance," he wrote, adding "ramshackle" plotting was undermining the show's surface panache.
On Feb. 24, 1966, The Stage and Television Today said, "Patrick Macnee's Steed is by now unimprovable," but "opinions about Diana Rigg's performance are divided." Still, the reviewer argued "she has made a definable character of Emma Peel, something without much help from the scriptwriters. And whatever her costumes - last week she was a strikingly clad Queen of Sin - she has looked constantly fetching."
As these mixed notices were appearing, audiences were embracing The Avengers more than ever before. At a time when toothpick thin models were becoming celebrities in Britain, some cited Rigg's non-curvaceous but healthy build as a better alternative. Additionally, many women and a few men were tired of conspicuously over-endowed heroines and welcomed a more athletic-looking alternative. "Diana Rigg is a goddess to flat-chested women everywhere," is how one website would later put it. And while she was not as physically formidable as Blackman, Rigg adopted her description of Cathy Gale. Like her predecessor, Rigg called Mrs. Peel a "good girl who fights back." Even more than today, popular entertainment of the time often presented a stereotype of feeble heroines, stupidly putting themselves into danger and unable to escape, tripping and falling and needing to be rescued. While somewhat lacking in Steed's cynical professional smarts and easily persuaded to help him, Emma Peel had a higher IQ, a wide range of scientific and artistic interests, a fearless cool and the ability to rescue herself _ and Steed. "We were androgynous," Macnee would say in an AOL chat for the A&E network, which later released Avengers DVDs and tapes in the U.S. Unlike most actors, he was unafraid to share the heroism with his female partner.
"Mrs Peel was the femme fatale as pure calculator: the epitome of the rational brain working efficiently under pressure," Maria Alvarez would write in The New Statesman in 1998. "She overturned the stereotype of the dizzy, dependent, hysterical, simpering girlie, while Steed was subtly feminised by his Regency dandy persona. Aggression was something she ritualised in her job."
The Punch commentary above referred to Too Many Christmas Trees, which included a joking reference to Cathy Gale but launched Emma Peel and her show on its surge toward the top of the ratings. The Stage and Television reference was to A Touch of Brimstone, which would become the show's high water mark in UK ratings. With an inventive script reworking British history, sinister but suave villains, and a classically cool performance by Macnee, the episode has all the ingredients for success. And then it has Diana Rigg in a self-designed costume. Diana wasn't kidding when she talked about fashion-forward. From the snake on her arm to her bejeweled eyes to black silk panties and spiked boots, Diana made quite an appearance as the Queen of Sin. The top was a black bustier, anachronistically reshaped from a flat front to gently but tightly curving, allowing Rigg to pad and push up her chest enough to create the illusion of breasts. The dominatrix effect worked almost too well. In the puritanical US, television executives would refuse to air the episode during the show's 1960s run, despite its high ratings in the UK. But they would show it during their own industry get-togethers. In later years, Rigg's outfit became the signature image of the series.
A Row about Pay
Behind the scenes, however, everything was not well. Shortly after Too Many Christmas Trees aired, Rigg discovered that at £90 a week, she was being paid less than a cameraman. She was outraged. True to form, the actress did not keep silent. True to form, she also found a way to cost herself sympathy, blurting out that she was "paid less than a coal miner," at a time when miners in her native Yorkshire faced the loss of their jobs. In his book The Avengers and Me, Macnee admitted he was little help to his co-star. But he was alarmed when Rigg confessed that aside from him, "her only friend was her chauffeur!" The powers-that-be at ABC UK had her under contract. But when Diana threatened to walk off the show anyway, they recognized that in their stinginess they had miscalculated. Diana had won over the British television audience, and the show was finally about to make its American debut. The prospective revenue made it the most lucrative foreign deal anywhere in television. This time, they could not just drop an outspoken actress.
Adding to Diana's unhappiness, the intensely private actress was not enjoying her new-found celebrity. Although she had acted in front of audiences for years, now she was being recognised in public. Rigg was not amused. "I'm sorry, but it's illegal to sign autographs in the street," she snapped at one hapless fan.
"I can only describe it as a sense of panic that seizes you when you are Diana to yourself and you are walking down the street. An instant later, you are somebody else to a lot of people who behave as if you belong to them," Diana told TV Times.
"I don't understand the autograph syndrome," she told the American TV Guide, which also noted a "rumor" that she needed a few drinks to relax for publicity photos. Still, her cooperation in the shoot paid off. Despite some doubts about how her show would fare in America, the magazine quickly adopted Diana Rigg as one of its favorites. TV Guide would regularly promote her career, and years later its editors eventually chose Rigg, along with George Clooney, as their "sexiest" ever television stars.
That March, a few weeks before what was then the end of the official American television season, The Avengers made its Stateside debut. It replaced Ben Casey, an initially successful show that had sunk near the bottom of the ratings on low-rated ABC US. Some who tuned in were frankly puzzled. Right from the op-art opening, the show announced it was like nothing else on American television. A corpse lies on a black-and-white checkerboard, a knife sticking from a black-and-white bulls-eye on his back. A man in a stylish suit and a woman in a black leather catsuit stroll out, take a bottle of champagne from the victim. Meanwhile, a clipped British voice announces, "Extraordinary crimes against the people, and the state, have to be avenged by agents extraordinary..." The voiceover eventually gives way to a tapping bongo as the agents open the bottle, pour themselves some, clink glasses _ and the stirring theme launches. Introducing new clothes, novel camera angles, quirky plots and jazzy music, it's no wonder that some viewers felt disoriented. But many got it, especially the young and hip.
And especially women. If some in the UK considered Emma Peel as a sort of Cathy Gale Lite, she was a revelation in the conservative US. Primed for change by cultural movements, particularly women's liberation, many American viewers were ready for someone to serve as their on-screen avatar. "At last we can have one hour of excellent television," wrote one female fan, cited by Jeffrey Miller in his book on the US impact of British shows.
Perhaps playing to such new fans, Diana insisted, "I never think of myself as sexy. I identify with the new woman in our society who is evolving. Emma is totally equal to Steed. The fighting is the most obvious quality. I always win my fights, and, personally, I enjoy it - the idea of taking on six men when you know you're going to win." Never mind that back in the UK, Rigg was consistently deriding "that feminist thing" as "boring." "I'm not at all militant," she assured interviewers. Or that Diana took a perverse glee in describing her lack of skill in martial arts, and lack of interest in learning. At a time when the studio was promoting her fighting prowess, she was telling the media it was all make-believe, a credit to stunt people. "I only have to touch them with my finger and they throw themselves across the room," Rigg said.
In September 1966, Diana told The Evening Standard that she had learned "how to do the necessary gestures and movements" for a fight scene with a man, "but not in earnest." Even other actresses found they had to show restraint so as not to overpower the unmuscled Diana when grappling in fight scenes. Close viewing shows villainesses propping Diana up or releasing their grasp at critical moments so Mrs. Peel could appear victorious.
"Iconic figures of this era, like Twiggy and "The Avengers"' Emma Peel, presented daring, edgy female images whose fashion choices represented strength and confidence rather than modesty and obedience," Molly Faulkner-Bond would write in Sirens Magazine. "The futuristic designs of mod clothing were all about looking forward, rejecting past rules and roles, and generally asserting a new kind of aesthetic for young women in particular."
In distancing herself from Mrs. Peel's physical toughness, though, Diana Rigg reflected other cultural currents. At the height of Cold War competitions, Western countries still had no anxiety when their women's teams regularly lost to Soviets and East Germans, preferring their girls aspire to be "ladylike." On the other hand, effective birth control had finally become widely available, and the control was finally in the hands of women. Many women were anxious to take advantage of sexual opportunities, while concerned about scaring men in other ways. Even when it came to publicizing her show, Diana often emphasized her availability more than her character's more threatening capabilities. "Emma Peel isn't fully emancipated," Diana told TV Guide, but she wasn't talking about political emancipation. She complained about the characters' limited physical contact, saying, "Steed pats me from time to time like a good horse."
Although Rigg had given herself that dominatrix outfit, in a later interview on Parkinson she complained about the effects of Emma Peel's tough image. "Socially it can be terribly difficult," she said. "When they think you’re infallible you sort of get a butch creature you know, which I’m not."
Given such quotes, it was no surprise when Diana confessed the studio did not like her doing interviews. But her outspokenness had limits. While photographed looked baleful at an anti-Vietnam War demonstration, in the political realm Rigg had little to say. In many ways, she had not strayed far from her family's Conservative Party roots. Indeed, one Avengers episode had Steed and Emma rescuing a fictional prime minister at the time when Labourite Harold Wilson was the real one, then declining to answer the door when he called to thank them. The characters said they had not voted for him.
"The Avengers admits of one class, and that is the upper," the show's troglodyte writer Brian Clemens would say, inaccurately elaborating that it would never show a policeman or a "coloured" man. One of his scripts had Steel, listening to a gentle steel band, refer to "jungle music," reminiscent of official efforts to ban rock-and-roll. Oblivious to much of this subtext, American viewers came to the show as is, and turned it into a modest ratings success as a summer replacement. Much of the acclaim went to Diana Rigg, who was nominated for an Emmy. She lost to a more conventional femme fatale, curvaceous blonde Barbara Bain. As part of the ensemble of the more conventional, and more American, spy show, Mission Impossible Bain would win three straight Emmys.
Meanwhile, the UK/US partnership had its rough patches. In Britain, the black-and-white episodes concluded with a light-hearted outing that found Emma Peel going under not much cover in a harem. Diana's outfit, a tiny bustier and gauzy, low-riding Turkish trousers over tinier panties, was minimal and unflattering. The exposure "hardly embellished her non-bosomy physique," in the polite phrasing of Femme Fatales magazine. Still, it praised her "all natural and titillating" sensuousness as she danced and fought in the brief costume. What alarmed American censors, though, was Diana's exposed navel, a body part barred from US airwaves. Responding to their complaints during filming, wardrobe inserted a costume jewel. But as Diana did a dance of the veils, it kept popping out. Finally, she had to glue it in. She was not amused, and even less so when ABC (US) declined to air the episode.
Facing what was then a large financial commitment, ABC (US) showed why it was the third-place network. Its execs dithered over whether to renew the show, before finally deciding to bring it back in January as a mid-season replacement. One benefit of the break, though, was that it allowed studio executives to make nice with Diana, relaxing the shooting schedule enough that she could resume theatrical work in Stratford. The critic Stanley Wells praised her as "charming" in Twelfth Night but faulted the production as "light-weight." Diana was paid only £70 a week in Stratford, but told the Daily Mail that the Avengers pay dispute still rankled.
"If I go back to the Avengers, it will have to be for at least three times as much," she said. "The salary was a fair one when I started a year ago, but suddenly being Emma Peel is obviously worth a lot more."
Meanwhile, Bates had given further thought to Emma's costumes and reworked her fighting kit into a new line of non-leather, jersey catsuits, "emmapeelers." They fit Rigg better and were suited to her lean frame. Diana's fans at TV Guide promo-ed the wardrobe with a four-page photo spread in which she was notably less curvaceous even than in the harem outfit. But her new gear was less revealing, suiting US censors, while giving the production company with another marketing tie-in. Of course, Diana Rigg was not the first female celebrity with an "athletic build." She harkened back to Spencer Tracy's line about her hero, Katharine Hepburn, "there's not a lot of meat on her bones, but it's all cherce." Other actresses with more, but still modest, curves were coming to the fore. Even taller redhead Vanessa Redgrave was the new leading light of British stage and movies, while Candice Bergen, Faye Dunaway and Katharine Ross, starred in leading American movies. Erstwhile first lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis had reintroduced the type to American paparazzi. "The Avengers" itself sought to capitalize on rail-thin Twiggy, as Macnee posed with the Carnaby Street sensation. Although some 25 pounds heavier, Rigg presented almost the same profile as that other Hepburn, Audrey, whose square shoulders and long legs also supplemented minimal curves.
So there was fashion as well as entertainment buzz behind the show when it came back with colour episodes. In the UK, "The Avengers" resumed its place near the top of the ratings, although with numbers slightly below its peak. There was some grousing that the show was being "Americanised," but the extra income showed in better production values. Diana appreciated the light comic tone of many episodes, saying the writers had moved past the Blackman era and adapted to her preferences. But many of the directors who had set the style for the black-and-white episodes now found themselves pushed to the rear of the queue. Some new episodes simply recycled Cathy Gale scripts, new to US viewers but recently seen in the UK. Able to capitalize on the era's day-glow tones, the show's palette took fuller advantage of Carnaby Street style. But many episodes also tilted more toward camp, to the point of a tongue-in-cheek homage to that genre's reigning champion, the American Batman TV series. With stuntwoman Cyd Childs now handling most of Emma Peel's heavy lifting, directors became over-confident in her passing resemblance to Diana Rigg. Filming Childs full-face in scenes may have saved money, but made it more obvious that Rigg was not doing the physically challenging bits. When the US ABC finally brought the show back to American airwaves, it again did reasonably well without turning into a break-out hit. Her fans at TV Guide elevated their praise, calling Diana "not only the most beautiful but probably the best actress on the TV screen on either side of the Atlantic." But they too grumbled that increasing campiness and "plot nonsense" were undermining the show's previous sophistication. The mixed responses led to more network dithering, which reinforced Diana Rigg's intention to look for greener pastures. At ABC Britain, executives had no qualms about her departure. In fact, The Avengers brain trust encouraged her to leave before the end of her contract.
Diana Rigg Silver Screen
With offers in the wind, Rigg's first movie choice was made more for art than lucre. Stratford director Peter Brook decided to rework his successful stage production of A Midsummer Night's Dream for the screen. Diana told interviewers that she was inspired by Paul Scofield's decision to return to the troupe after winning the Oscar for best actor in 1966.
"Peter Brook was doing it and I believe in him and I grew up with him, so I had to answer his call," Rigg said, although Brook's vision for the movie was not his ethereal stage version. Instead, he sent his star-crossed lovers out to wander a real wood and show the wear-and-tear. "There was a great deal of discomfort," Diana told the San Francisco Examiner, especially since the shoot had started too late for midsummer. Trees aside, it was clear from the opening scene that Brook's forest was much closer to Swinging London than it was to Athens, with royalty wearing leather and miniskirts. The two pairs of lovers were fortunate in one sense, in that their more amorphous costumes allowed them to wear warm undergarments against the chill, Rigg told the newspaper.
Most of the film's headlines went to Ian Helm's speeded-up, tongue-wagging Puck and, even more, to voluptuous Judi Dench, wearing little more than leaf-shaped pasties and truly deserving of the name Titiana. Even without that exposure, a very young and lovely Helen Mirren attracted notice as Hermia, physically dominating the less-endowed Rigg, who nevertheless received generally good notices as Helena. The movie holds up well, although the almost interchangeable David Warner and Michael Jayston add little as Lysander and Demetrius. But Diana later said she was "embarrassed" by the end result, admitting the validity of criticism that the cast has not modulated its stage performances for the screen.
"Originally it had been a marvellous stage production, but it had gone on and on, growing more self-indulgent and deteriorating in every way," Rigg told the Herald Tribune.
Looking for something more commercial, Diana Rigg first found herself tying up loose ends at The Avengers. The show had brought on a replacement, and needed Diana back to shoot some scenes for a transitional episode. Her successor was a young Canadian straight out of drama school, Linda Thorson. This time, the studio had not searched far. Thorson was the girlfriend of new showrunner John Bryce, a writer and producer who had just been elevated to the top spot. The changes did not go over well with everyone behind the cameras, as two producers quit.
But Brian Clemens stepped up to sing the new girl's praises while disparaging the old one's flaws. Compared to Diana Rigg, Linda Thorson "is sexier, more pneumatic in build, with a bosom and hips," he drooled to assembled media in March 1968, according to The Louisville Courier-Journal. As if to underscore Clemens' point, both actresses arrived wearing sweaters "and therein Miss Thorson filled sufficiently enough," the newspaper reported. The studio, which had once upgraded Diana's measurements, now took pains to contrast Thorson's "womanly" 38D-24-36½ figure with the "boyish" Rigg. The new leading lady quickly chimed in.
"I win battles on the fact that I am a woman," Thorson told the Daily Mail, adding, "we are bringing back the bosom. The dresses will have plunge neck lines."
Without trumpeting their relationship, Bryce said, "I think it's time to go back to femininity. We've had all the leather business _ the new girl will be essentially a woman."
But as the Courier-Journal said, Diana was "a tough act to follow." It questioned whether the show's audience would embrace a new actress on the basis of her larger bra size without regard to her lack of acting experience.
"Diana Rigg, on the other hand, has become something special, a girl whose appeal and femininity one doesn’t express in words or measurements but in wistfully vicarious smiles," the reporter wrote.
For once, Rigg kept quiet while the likes of Clemens, Bryce and Thorson focused on her shortcomings. Because everyone was getting what they wanted. In an otherwise dismal episode, Emma Peel gave a memorable farewell to John Steed _ and Diana was off to play the female lead in The Assassination Bureau opposite Oliver Reed. Based on a novella begun by Jack London but completed by another writer, the movie dropped any pretense of philosophizing and turned the tale into a breezy adventure.
"Filming is a new medium for me," Rigg told Photoplay before the opening. "I'm rather nervous of it and I thought a comedy would be the best way of playing myself in. With comedy you know where you are. You are playing for a laugh so the aim is well defined."
Stealing heavily from The Great Race, a recent box office hit, the story had Rigg, as a proto-feminist reporter, uncover the aforementioned bureau and its nefarious doings. She hires its head, played by Reed, to assassinate himself. Claiming that he only goes after evil, he nevertheless accepts the contract. Telly, Savalas, Curt Jurgens and other fairly well actors signed on. Despite their off-screen reputations, it seems Diana and Reed were just colleagues, and their on-screen scenes were politely comedic rather than sensual. Rigg's character was plucky rather than physical. Although she did spend some time hopping around in a towel, she vanished from the final action sequences. Reviews were generally positive, with some extremes.
The Times called it "killingly funny," a dramatic overstatement, while the Daily Express snottily praised the end, "because that meant the ordeal was finally over." Still, American producer Robert Evans was satisfied, later telling an audience at a National Film Theatre gala in London that the movie "did well, didn't cost very much to make," before bizarrely adding, "It was the start of things like The Avengers."
Diana Rigg Mrs. Bond
Like their ABC counterparts a few years earlier, Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli faced a major personnel problem. The producers had been fantastically successful with a series of movies made from Ian Fleming's novels about British secret agent James Bond. The only thing missing was James Bond. Their star, Scotsman Sean Connery, had taken the series to the heights of the box office, but was increasingly tired of the role.
The take from Connery's most recent Bond opus, You Only Live Twice, had slipped slightly from the series' all-time peak. More importantly, Connery was fed up with the grind, the mania of media and fans. He was looking for a more challenging role than a smirking secret agent in fantasy adventures. In the Swinging Sixties, James Bond seemed like yesterday's papers. The modern cinema belonged to Bonnie and Clyde and Blow-Up, not to the diminishing returns of spy capers. But Saltzman and Broccoli already had a project in the pipeline, On Her Majesty's Secret Service. It shaped up as the most challenging Bond film yet, because Fleming had attempted to graft a tragic love story onto his usual ripping yarn. The Bond millions still appealed to many actors, while the producers could not settle on one.
The search for a leading lady to play the first Mrs. Bond was going even worse. Written as a wealthy, half-Corsican, half-British blonde, the part had Broccoli beating on the doors of major French actresses. Catherine Deneuve was not interested. France Anglade was not interested. Brigitte Bardot decided she would rather make Shalako with, of all people, Sean Connery and Honor Blackman. Closer to home, Broccoli had rejected Julie Christie as the ingenue in Thunderball, finding her breasts too small.
“We like to think that the male audience _ and I don’t wanna sound chauvinistic at this point _ like to see a beautiful bosomed lady. And I do, too," Broccoli said. "So there we are."
Christie may have failed Broccoli's "tit test" then, but now she was too big a star to want a second chance.
Plunging into this fluid situation, a tall Australian caught the producers' attention. Former car salesman and part-time model George Lazenby had attracted attention in candy commercials. Now, he went to Connery's tailor and bought a suit the actor had ordered but never purchased. He was careful to be seen getting a haircut at the barber used by Broccoli and Connery. And he finagled his way into the producer's office. Ladies and gentleman, your new James Bond.
"I'm really looking forward to being Bond for the bread and the birds," money and women, Lazenby announced in Life magazine.
There was a problem. Aside from those ads and a role in a Spanish Western, a part eventually cut out, Lazenby had never acted. The producers believed it was even more important to find a strong actress, but their choices were dwindling. Hunt approached Diana Rigg, then invited Lazenby to join them for dinner. They hit it off. Saltzman offered Diana the job. Of course, Diana recognised a potential obstacle, but Broccoli agreed to settle for heavily padded bras instead of his usual test.
"At the end of all this pulchritude, there's me," Diana said when the cast was announced, adding her line, "I'm not all teeth and tits."
Hardly anyone noticed. The world was agog over the handsome new Bond, even though Rigg would later say she had been hired as Lazenby's acting coach. Indeed, as the known quantity, Diana was paid twice what he was. She clearly enjoyed having a starring role, praising the producers and first-time director Peter Hunt for the way they treated her. As usual, though, she had a complaint.
"I didn't like my Bond Girl outfits," Rigg told BritMovie. "The designer was a friend of the directors and I thought they were too boring and middle-aged for my character."
Compared to her curvaceous Bond Girl predecessors, Rigg's OHMSS wardrobe carefully kept her under wraps with no iconic bikinis. Even in a beach scene, Diana wore a sparkly blue-green and gold caftan. Aside from Diana, though, that was well received by fans. A short-skirted skating outfit showed her legs to good advantage, and many admired her Spanish riding outfit. But opinion was divided among Diana's low-cut casino gown, coupled with a slash-front, push-up padded bra. In a scene where Rigg is easily the tallest person in the frame, she bends all the way down to the waist facing the camera. Some appreciated the effort to display her tiny tits; others thought that Rigg simply emphasized her shortcomings compared to her predecessors. Similarly, her boudoir lingerie had a cheesy, Frederick's of Hollywood look. An otherwise pretty wedding outfit, a lace pantsuit, was far too big in the bodice for Diana, and its ungathered waist tended to puff out unflatteringly.
But most eyes were on Lazenby. Later, he would tell interviewers that the producers warned him about the press. But the initial reception seemed fine. Then, in October 1968, location shooting began at the Piz Gloria chalet in Switzerland, the mountain eyrie of arch-villain Blofeld. There, as the silly plot had it, he presided over a coterie of gorgeous models, secretly brainwashing them to destroy the world's food supplies by spraying poison from perfume atomizers. Lazenby appreciated the surroundings, and being the leading man.
"I could have the best wines, the best food. I could go to any restaurant. I could do whatever I liked up there and also I had all those girls to entertain me. They were fun," George said in an interview reported at BritMove.
In a radio interview that December, Diana described Lazenby as "gorgeous," adding she like him "very much." But there was an off-note, as she noted he'd had a lot thrown at him quickly "which he wasn't prepared for," before concluding that he would get through it.
So how did it happen that by January 1970, just after the movie opened, Diana and George were exchanging insulting letters in the pages of The Daily Sketch? Rigg cited Lazenby's apparent acceptance by the public and asking, "Why, then, do you persist in dwelling on your petty grievances? "I’m tired of reading those paranoid statements to the Press wherein you were solely surrounded by hostile people," Rigg wrote. "I agree that by the end of the film most of the crew were hostile, but only because of your extreme behaviour."
Only a few weeks before, Rigg had told the same newspaper that " 'There was one moment..." at which moment she gritted her teeth, 'but by and large we got on all right... it's a case of get on or shut up.' "
Lois Maxwell, the erstwhile Miss Moneypenny, provided a Bond fanzine with the missing link. Rigg's relationship with Lazenby was "more complicated" than a simple feud, she said, "Diana thought she should be enough for George." Lazenby disagreed. Maxwell was amused by his Bond-like escapades among the beautiful actresses playing Blofeld's angels and the other curvaceous women on location. Of two dozen women on set, Maxwell said only she and one other rebuffed George. While Diana imagined keeping him to herself, the competition was simply too much for her.
But after all, Lazenby was a male model who openly proclaimed he took the role to score with babes. The mores of the era were far different than our conservative age. And back in London, Diana was still living with the married Saville. So why was she so angry at George? Two recent Bond blogs provide more clues. One claims that George tattled to his other conquests, mocking Rigg's scrawny breasts and healthy ego. Another quotes him saying that they got together on the Italian Riveria after filming wrapped, but unbeknownst to Diana, she was not the only woman he had invited.
"Diana caught me with my pants down," Lazenby is quoted. "She was very upset because we were in a romantic relationship at the time, but I just laughed."
Unfortunately, neither of these blogs cite a source, but Lazenby has used the "pants down" part of the quote in a number of other interviews over the years. Given his immaturity at the time, he might well have given the fuller version initially. If Diana was remarkably oblivious to expect him to be faithful, she did not deserve to be humiliated.
At a Bond event in June 2011 in Hollywood, Lazenby drew laughs when he told of being discovered by Diana en flagrante with the hotel receptionist during shooting. The stunt people kept gear, including mattresses, in a tent outside the hotel, and he took the woman there after having told Rigg that he was not fooling around, Lazenby said. A stunt man lifted up the side of the tent as Diana approached, "And yeah it was basically 'F*** you,'" George said.
"Diana and I would have been good friends except she wanted a deal where I don’t muck around with any of the other girls. And I couldn’t keep it," Lazenby told the crowd. George was somewhat gentlemanly, declining to name a favorite among his on-set conquests. But he pointedly said Diana was on location at Piz Gloria while he was carrying on with the rest of the women.
Rigg's revenge, writing nasty letters about him to the press just as their movie opened, seems amazingly ill-conceived. And while there are things to like about OHMSS, including Diana's legs, it did not have legs at the box office. After opening strongly, it did enough business to be successful. By the standards of the Bond series, though, it was a bus plunge, with less than one-third the North American receipts of Thunderball. As the well-paid leading lady blasting her leading man, Rigg might have shared in the blame for any disappointment. But do you know what happened next? A miracle.
Irish businessman Ronan O'Rahilly had shaken up the British entertainment industry, creating the "pirate" Radio Caroline and becoming a successful music and movie producer. But he agreed with Sean Connery: James Bond was old hat. He advised his friend Lazenby to turn down a lucrative long-term contract to continue in the role. By now sporting long hair and an earring, George agreed. He partied round the world before chilling out in Tibet. Lazenby did find another way to annoy Diana, settling in at the home of Jill St. John, a brainy and far more voluptuous redhead who would become the next Bond Girl, cast for her ability to fill out a bikini rather than other talent. But Lazenby's bad business decision confirmed him as the problem in OHMSS.
"He definitely was the architect of his own demise as a film star," Diana recently told BBC4's Mark Lawson with apparent satisfaction, describing George as "ill equipped" and "really difficult."
Diana Rigg Live Nude Girl
Diana herself chilled out for a while with Saville in an off-the-grid house she had bought in Ibiza. She had shot The Minikillers, one of two short films made for a German businessman, in the area. It is notable for marking one of the few times Diana Rigg was filmed in a bikini. But that film and its companion, Das Diadem, were never adequately completed. The poor-quality versions can be seen on YouTube.
After OHMSS, Diana was soon working again, in the telemovie Married Alive and on the big screen as Porcia in an ill-advised remake of Julius Caesar. Surprisingly, the problem was not uncured ham Charlton Heston, whose bombast fit the movie's conception of Mark Antony. Playing Porcia's husband Brutus, well-regarded Jason Robards took a low-key, stoic approach. It was historically justifiable, but left the drama unbalanced with no counterweight to Heston. While Diana won plaudits for her acting, lost in a toga, she looked very young. Again, that was factually correct, but to modern eyes, she seemed ill-matched with the grizzled Robards.
But Rigg's most notable appearance came on stage, and reinforced her image as a daring, modern actress. She agreed to play the female lead in Ronald Millar's medieval romance Abelard and Heloise. The catch? It featured a four-minute nude scene. The Theatres Act of 1968 had ended the Lord Chamberlain's censorship of the British stage, which had tolerated the occasional nude background pose but not cast members moving around, acting, without clothes. Productions were quick to take advantage. Maggie Wright was exhibit A as a vaseline-smeared Helen of Troy at the RSC. As in New York, Hair jubiliantly allowed cast members to strip for the first act finale, then turned down the lights. Big names including Samuel Beckett, John Lennon and Sam Shepard contributed to Kenneth Tynan's silly sex revue O! Calcutta. But it was beautiful Raina Barrett and other well-endowed cast members shedding their clothes who turned it into a hit.
The difference was that Rigg and co-star Keith Haring were "name" actors as opposed to young unknowns. Playing a 17-year-old was already a stretch for Diana at 32-33, and she said the nude scene was not an attraction. "I don't have a particularly good body and I don't get any pleasure out of taking my knickers down and exposing it," Rigg told TV Movies Today. She even had make-up applied to her bum, she said, to avoid "looking like an old piece of cod." But she described the nudity as integral to the role.
Writing later in The Guardian, Michael Billington spotlighted the crassness behind the calculations, calling Abelard and Heloise a classic bait-and-switch. "Much was made of the fact that Diana Rigg and Keith Michell would engage in a nude love scene, but it was so sepulchrally lit as to be barely visible."
There were some favorable notices, often for Diana. The Times called her "handsome," and praised her delivery of lines "which from the mouth of a less-assured actress would have provoked school-boyish titters." Plays and Players made similar points. The medieval lovers had already inspired "several bad plays" and Millar "does not tamper with tradition," wrote reviewer Robert Cushman. He found the lighting too dim to benefit anyone except a lucky actor who entered downstage while Rigg was facing upstage and "has a stroke."
When the production traveled to America, Clive Barnes of The New York Times was wildly enthusiastic. Capturing the essence of Diana's appeal to her fans, Barnes called her "sensuous as a cat," with "a radiant beauty far more beguiling than that of many more obviously pretty women." Barnes described the nude scene as "the most tasteful, tactful and apposite."
But at all its venues, many audience members were frustrated at being able to see little or nothing of the famous nudes. Those who did were not all impressed with Rigg. She readily confessed to interviewers that one attendee who told her, "I don't know why you bother. My girlfriend's tits are much larger than yours." Another described her as suited to play Abelard. Critic John Simon delivered the coup de grâce, writing, "Diana Rigg is built, alas, like a brick basilica with insufficient flying buttresses and suggests neither intense womanliness nor outstanding intelligence."
Diana's losing streak continued off stage. When the production moved to LA, young cast member Dirk Benedict rebuffed Rigg's amorous advances. But he blamed his own timidity. "Her female aggressiveness and London chic were far too much for my country shyness," Benedict wrote in his memoir Confessions of a Kamikaze Cowboy.
Simon's line became the most memorable thing about the play. Rigg initially described herself as being "very hurt" and creeping around to avoid being recognised. A few years later, she was more forthcoming with the Morning News. Her reaction was, "Well, f*ck him! You can review my performance but not my physique." But Diana showed her pluck, using the harsh words as the basis for No Turn Left Unstoned, her book compiling similarly acerbic, often funny reviews. Cleverly, she left out the second, more pointed part of Simon's criticism, making it seem that he was merely griping about her under-developed bust and not eviscerating her acting.
Meanwhile, Rigg was now more famous than ever, albeit notorious as much as celebrated. She had gone from judo girl to Bond girl to breastless naked girl. Perhaps with Simon in mind, Diana turned down a lucrative offer to pose nude in Playboy. Despite the uproar surrounding A&H, it did earn Diana nominations for acting awards in the UK and USA. Unfortunately, she chose to capitalise with a role opposite George C. Scott in The Hospital that merely required her to be The Girl. The production was pitched to her while Abelard and Heloise was in America, and sounded like fun, she said. At the time, Diana said all the right things about the movie, and it earned her a Golden Globe nomination. Only years later did she admit that the surly Scott disappeared on weekend benders. Rigg's subsequent quotes about not wanting to watch herself on screen stemmed from her straight performance of a poorly written, airhead character.
The Hospital is notable mainly for including Rigg's only filmed "nudity," although most viewers may go blind trying to find it. Mr. Skin purports that she shows everything including bush, but this occurs in a murky, out-of-focus sexual assault scene that goes to great lengths to hide anything from view. Vidcaps of the scene cleaned up seem to show what may be Diana nude on her back, tracking along her side from one pale pink nipple on a flat as a crêpe breast to the top of her thigh. There are also a few frames of what might be tiny tits. Earlier, Diana does have a nip slip as she stands in a hallway, but this is also hard to decipher. Although her shirt is unbuttoned to just above the navel, wardrobe contrived to have it puffed out to suggest a fuller bustline. Because of Rigg's very shallow bosom, the nipple is much less far out than the point where the eye is drawn by her shirt.
After the unpleasant experience of The Hospital, Diana had more luck in London, landing the female lead in Tom Stoppard's latest play, Jumpers. As Dottie Moore, a woman seemingly unhinged by the idea of men landing on the moon, Rigg handled Stoppard's whiz-bang dialogue with aplomb. She also challenged her critics by flashing her boyish figure in a brief but well-lit bit of nudity, lying on a bed and arising to put on a dressing gown. "I was always face down on the bed, and sure as hell, as fast as I could, used to put that dressing gown on," Rigg told Leonard Probst,
But the theme continued in a subsequent production of Macbeth. In rehearsals, Laurence Olivier belatedly noticed that Diana did not wear a bra unless required for a role or photo shoot. In front of the cast, he told her this was "most disturbing," and with theatrical cattiness, began calling her "Tits." Diana was flustered when word got out, admitting to a questioner that the nickname was "ridiculous... I don't have those... I'm not known for my tits." In revenge, she reported that was the only note Olivier gave her on her performance. (Oddly, in a recent interview, Diana feigned surprised when the nickname was mentioned. She blithely called Olivier a dear, but confirmed, "I certainly didn't have cleavage.") With nothing to bounce, Diana still found a way to bounce back, adopting the name and wearing it emblazoned on a T-shirt to a shooting of Hollywood Squares. The staff hastily affixed strips of masking tape to conceal her message. Presenter Gene Rayburn admitted he was tempted to hit on Diana, though he claimed not to have succumbed.
Diana Rigg Increasingly bad decisions
Not every review was favourable, but many were, and Diana's string of successful London shows confirmed her versatility beyond overtly sexual or lightly comedic roles. "How Miss Rigg has bloomed since her arrival at the National" Theatre, W. Stephen Gilbert wrote in Plays and Players review of The Misanthrope. It did not hurt that Diana freely announced that she had no underwear beneath her clingy gowns. But the American market still beckoned. At this fluid time, Diana decided to subtract one element from the mix. After eight-plus years of cohabitation, she threw over Saville. Rigg described the moment to Oui with a sangfroid she might have learned from Lazenby, saying her lover's reaction, "I'm very, very insulted," made "wonderful conversation." She spoofed his clear but undramatic words, telling the magazine, "For 'insulted,' read 'bewildered and hurt, but I'm not going to let you know'." (Nevertheless, Saville did credit Diana as a woman of her word for turning up later to testify for him in a court case.)
Diana quickly moved on, first to a small rental house in Barnes, but eventually to something more dramatic. First, she got back on screen in a Vincent Price horror movie, albeit a very upscale one. Theatre of Blood allowed its well-known cast to turn the tables on critics. Expecting acclaim, its leading man plunges to his apparent death when a very catty circle of critics denies him its award. Then, they begin turning up dead in horrible ways _ taken directly from Shakespeare. Amid this high-class blood-letting, Rigg's role is a subtle commentary on the divide between reality and stage illusion.
Playing a make-up artist who is daughter of the departed actor, Diana appears subdued and washed-out in some scenes, like a normal person instead of a glamorous actress. In many others, she's dressed in male drag that emphasizes her androgynous body while being more colorful and elaborate than many of her female outfits. But Rigg also has a sequence in what might be called female drag: a blonde wig, thick make-up and bright red lipstick, a bra even more heavily padded than those Diana wore in other roles, white mini-skirt and white vinyl go-go books. Without ever being commented on in the script, these wardrobes provide a compendium of Rigg's physique and the ways its image could be re-shaped.
Whilst filming the movie, Diana introduced Price to his future wife, Beryl Reid. As it was released, she attended a London party where she met an Israeli artist, Menachem Gueffen. "It was not an immediate attraction, as if I wanted to grab her behind the bushes," he would tell People magazine. "We talked about Israel and her leaky roof."
Within three months, though, they were jetting off to Tel Aviv. There, after a hotel room spat, Diana announced she was leaving. Gueffen responded by throwing her bags and clothes off their sixth-floor balcony. While Diana's shoes did not survive the fall, the artist was satisfied with his work.
"Diana became very calm, very quiet... and very obedient," Gueffen said.
"I was amazed," Diana admitted. "I seriously felt I had met my match."
Flying back to London, they flew over Rhodes, and Gueffen mentioned it was the place where the Arabs and Israelis made peace _ at least of a sort _ after the 1948 war.
"Let's make peace," Rigg said and then, according to Time, asked him to marry her. He agreed. They did. And almost immediately after their July 6, 1973, nuptials, they were off to Los Angeles.
Diana had been in negotiations with an American television network, NBC, to return to the small screen. Of the options offered, she liked a Western, which as she described would have had her undermining a frontier town's male power structure. It sounded like a cross between the later Support Your Local Sheriff with James Garner and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman with beautiful Bond girl Jane Seymour. But playing an unmarried news producer on her eponymous comedy show on CBS, Mary Tyler Moore had overturned American television. All the networks wanted the exact same show. So Rigg became Diana, a British divorcee relocated to the New York fashion industry. Its pedigree was not bad.
Producers Talent Associates-Norton Simon were responsible for the hit comedy Get Smart, in which sexy Barbara Feldon played a lighter version of Emma Peel, and would go on to score again with McMillan and Wife with movie star Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James. Even their less successful shows had generally been well received by critics. So when Diana breezed into LA that summer, there was reason for optimism.
Diana Rigg Quotes
"Doing Jumpers wasn't so hard, actually, I started on a bed nude and very quickly put a sort of dressing gown on. It was Abelard and Heloise that, was the hardest, because I had to walk out from the wings and do an entire love scene nude. It wasn't easy. God, not with my background! And, it never, ever got easier." - March 1976: Cosmopolitan
"Feminism is boring." _ The Times
"American men make lousy lovers." _ August 1973: Oui
"I have no physical prowess really, though." [Rigg's fight scenes] "were all based on stuntmen who would launch themselves through the air." -Photoplay, July 1972
"The sex act is the funniest thing on the face of the earth."
"My tits aren't big enough."
"Hollywood is not cosmopolitan. People here are so square."
Diana Rigg on the Web
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