Monday, July 31, 2017

A Song and Dance from Diana Rigg

There are probably millions of millennials who totally dig Dame Diana Rigg on GAME OF THRONES.  On that hugely successful medieval fantasy series on HBO, she's Lady Olenna Tyrell.  Yes, a Dame played a Lady.  Rigg was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for services to the arts in 1994. Lady Olenna's verbal comebacks cut like a sword.
We baby boomers, a generation that preceded the millennials, also totally dig Dame Diana on GAME OF THRONE.  We first started diggin' Diana on a slick, smart and sophisticated secret agent British TV series that was exported to the United States.  THE AVENGERS was fabulous 1960s fun.
The secret agent team keeping society safe from villains was English gentleman John Steed -- always with a derby and umbrella -- and his stylish partner, Mrs. Emma Peel.  She was cool, confident, and could deliver some serious karate chops.  Patrick Macnee as Steed and Diana Rigg had a chemistry that made this ABC presentation must-see TV.
Hollywood didn't do as much with Diana Rigg as Great Britain did.  She had stage success here in the States as she did in England.  The same goes for TV success here and in the U.K.   As for films, she was excellent opposite George C. Scott in Sidney Lumet's 1971 satire, THE HOSPITAL.  The original screenplay was by Paddy Chayefsky before he and Lumet teamed up again for their classic NETWORK.  She's deliciously bitchy as the glamorous actress who became a star by granting horizontal favors to influential men.  This is in the 1982 all-star Agatha Christie murder mystery, EVIL UNDER THE SUN.
I still feel that 2006's THE PAINTED VEIL, a drama starring Naomi Watts and Edward Norton, was one of the best films of that year.  Diana Rigg was the non-judgmental, realistic Mother Superior in China during the 1920s cholera epidemic.  THE PAINTED VEIL should have been a nominee for Best Picture and Diana Rigg should have been a nominee for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as the convent veteran.  It's a stand-out in an outstanding film.

Diana Rigg could also hit a comedy sketch assignment out of the park, plus give you a song and dance.  Morecambe & Wise (Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise) were a very famous, beloved comedy team who had a big hit, long-running sketch comedy series on British TV.

One sketch about classic British plays included guest star Diana Rigg when she was a star on THE AVENGERS.  The sketch ended with all three doing a song introduced by Fred Astaire and Jane Powell in the 1951 MGM musical comedy, ROYAL WEDDING.  Here's Morecambe & Wise...and Rigg.

Diana Rigg.  What a great Dame.

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