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Diana Rigg Died With her Go-Go Boots On

Laurence Jarvik

Posted on September 10, 2020 19:13

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Rigg was holding court at a round table filled with TV journalists at a reception for her PBS series. For some reason, I had been seated right next to her, on her left-hand side. On her right sat a venerable Newark Star-Ledger TV critic, doing an interview. He appeared smitten, and regaled her with the most filthy jokes I had ever heard, in order to impress her. She appreciated them all and responded with some dirty jokes of her own. Then came my turn to ask questions ...

Diana Rigg as PBS Mystery! Hostess

It was sad to read that Diana Rigg died of cancer today at her home in England.  She was one of my favorite actresses, ever since co-starring in The Avengers as cat-suit and go-go boots clad super-spy "Emma Peel."

Her character's name was an inside joke in the TV industry, a play on "M-appeal," meaning appeal to male television viewers. She had enough "M-appeal" to marry James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1969, as well as become an international superstar with a career spanning two millennia.

Over the years, I would watch almost anything with Diana Rigg in it, with the exception of "Game of Thrones" (too dark for my taste). 

Rigg was a versatile actress on stage and screen, as well as a great sex symbol, who could play parts ranging from Cordelia in Shakespeare's King Lear to Lady Holiday in The Great Muppet Caper in a 6-decade long career.

These famously included appearances on PBS's "Masterpiece Theatre" as well as "Mystery!"which she hosted from 1989 to 2003. It was in that role that I encountered her at a PBS press tour in the 1990s when she was in her 50s and looking absolutely fabulous.

Rigg was holding court at a round table filled with TV journalists at a reception for her PBS series. For some reason, I had been seated right next to her, on her left-hand side. On her right sat a venerable Newark Star-Ledger TV critic, doing an interview. He appeared smitten, and regaled her with the most filthy jokes I had ever heard, in order to impress her. She appreciated them all and responded with some dirty jokes of her own. Then came my turn to ask questions ...

Rigg laughed a throaty, cigarette-smoke laugh, her eyes twinkling mischievously. She looked at me patiently waiting to ask about the history of "Mystery!" for my book on PBS and suddenly picked up her linen napkin, rolled it up, stuck it in my ear, and chuckled:

"Stop up your ears, young man!"

She then went back to trading dirty jokes with the veteran columnist. I think that was the beginning and end of the interview.

As well as being a classically trained actress and sex-bomb, Rigg was a natural comedienne, possessing a great sense of humor in addition to flirtatious charm, as I had found out personally.

In later years, Rigg played grande dames of the Maggie Smith kind, in addition to being a real-life dame of the British Empire (and ex-wife of a Scottish Laird and an Israeli artist). Rigg was also a real trouper, in the best traditions of show business. She kept on working right up until the end, starring in the BBC miniseries "Black Narcissus", currently in post-production and scheduled for release in 2020.

True to form, she died with her go-go boots on ...

I miss her already.

Laurence Jarvik

Posted on September 10, 2020 19:13

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