Rigg has also had an extensive career in
the theatre both in Britain and America and became an Associate
Artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1967 and was the first as
such to join the National Theatre of Great Britain (1971). Rigg was
made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1988 and
a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1994.
Born in Yorkshire, the daughter of a
railroad engineer, she moved with her family to India at the age of
two months and lived there until she was 8 (she learned to speak
Hindi). Rigg made her professional stage debut in 1957 in The
Caucasian Chalk Circle and joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1959.
was the first major actor (along with co-star Keith Michell) to
appear nude on stage in the production of "Abelard and
Heloise" in 1970. In 1971, she made her Broadway debut in
Abelard & Heloise and received Tony Award nominations as Best
Actress (Dramatic) for "Abelard and Heloise" (1972) and
again for "The Misanthrope" (1975).
A savage review from John Simon for her
performance in "Abelard and Heloise" led her to collect
devastating theatrical reviews throughout history. The result was her
book, "No Turn Unstoned", published in 1982.
Rigg starred in the 1989 BBC miniseries
Mother Love, for which she won a BAFTA Award for Best Actress and the
1997 adaptation of Rebecca, which won her an Emmy Award. She had also
ventured into American sitcom TV with the short lived series Diana,
during the 1973-1974 television season. It was NBC's answer to The
Mary Tyler Moore Show but was cancelled after 15 episodes.
Rigg played Medea in 1992 at the Almeida
and Wyndham's in London and again in New York, where she won the 1994
Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. She was also awarded the 1992
London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actress for her
performance in "Medea".
She was awarded the 1996 London Evening
Standard Theatre Award for Best Actress for her performances in
"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "Mother
Courage". her performances have led critics to proclaim her one
of the greatest actresses on the British stage.