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20 Pictures of Diana Rigg: Remembering the Deadly, Adorable Emma Peel

The death of Diana Rigg on Thursday, September 10, saddens generations of passionate fans — few performers can boast affiliation with three franchises as popular as The Avengers, James Bond, and Game of Thrones.

A trained Shakespearean actor, Rigg found her first success as a TV star and sex symbol on The Avengers from 1967-69, playing Emma Peel, a catsuit-clad agent who’d melt your heart with a smile then kick your ass. She was a youthful, hip counterpoint to the show’s male lead, the older Patrick Macnee, whose John Steed carried a cane and wore a bowler hat. If you’re not familiar with the show (or just American), you can get a flavor of it from the stylish opening title sequence.

And style was a big thing with Mrs. Peel and Diana Rigg. In the ’60s, the phenomenon known as Swinging London was raging — England’s capital had become not just the epicenter of music but of fashion as well. Rigg was a sort of standard bearer on the small screen for the youth and their crazy mod look. There was nobody like her.

If American audiences didn’t know about her from The Avengers, they got a dose of the Rigg phenomenon soon enough, in the 1969 James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Though the film is often remembered for George Lazenby’s one-off Bond portrayal, Rigg’s turn as Tracy Draco, also known as the Contessa Teresa Di Vicenzo, is unique among Bond Girls — she was the only one of the many beauties to ensnare 007 in the glory of holy matrimony. Yes, Bond was ready to give up his promiscuous ways for Tracy, who became Tracy Bond in a wedding ceremony noted for the bride’s fabulous white lace jumpsuit.

Behold the bride: Diana Rigg in costume as Tracy Bond on her wedding day

Alas, the union of Tracy and James wasn’t meant to last, but we won’t go into further detail. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is an underrated Bond film and now would be a great time for everyone to rewatch it, or see it for the first time.

Years, and many roles, after The Avengers and Bond, Rigg found herself once again in the the spotlight thanks to a massive pop-cultural phenomenon: Game of Thrones. On the show, she played Olenna Tyrell, matriarch of the House Tyrell, who proves a wily adversary in the ever-tumultuous saga of the Starks and Lannisters for dominance of Westeros.

Farewell, Diana Rigg.

Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel, with Patrick Macnee as John Steed
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel with Patrick Macnee as John Steed
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel with Patrick Macnee as John Steed
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel with Patrick Macnee as John Steed

These last two are great — scans from a 1967 issue of TV Guide that spotlighted the “Emmapeeler” line of jumpsuits based on Mrs. Peel’s wardrobe.

Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
“Here’s that Avenger girl, Diana Rigg, in the grooviest jumpsuit on your TV screen. Called the ‘Emmapeeler’ — after the character she plays — it comes in eight colors and is made of a stretch fabric called Crimplene. T.B. Jones Ltd. of London is the manufacturer.”
Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
“Those giant ‘Avenger’ watches that Diana wears with her jumpsuits also are a British import. They come in various colors and straps, and this spring they started to appear in stores throughout the U.S. They are by Old England.”

29 thoughts on “20 Pictures of Diana Rigg: Remembering the Deadly, Adorable Emma Peel

  1. One of the things that always struck me about me about Diana Rigg as Mrs. Peel is that she is not what you would call a ‘beautiful’ woman. Attractive, yes, but not the classical beautiful woman. Part of her appeal has always been her attitude, (if everyone will forgive me) her ‘I am woman, hear me roar’ way of doing things. Part of why this has always amazed me is that at the time of ‘The Avengers,’ I was a teenage boy, and how many teenage boys do you think would be interested in a woman’s style and grace, rather than how far the front of her blouse stuck out?

    And so, happy birthday, Mrs. Peel.

    1. That is a fair comment, although I think beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As a woman, I will take whatever compliments I can get, it is all good. It helps that I have never considered myself a great beauty, I think this has given me a much healthier attitude overall. Like all the best women, I truly believe my best feature is my attitude. I often get that comment from online admirers.

  2. Brillante serie británica.
    Diana Rigg, en Argentina, donde me encuentro se celebra los 20 de julio, el Día del Amigo, asi que es un buen dia de natalicio para esta extraordinaria actriz.
    Hágole llegar mi cordial saludo extensivo a los fans de esta casi octogenaria belleza que nos conmoviera con su charme inconfundible en Los Vengadores.

  3. I was a wee lad, watching the avengers. Diana Rigg as Emma Peel was my first heart-throb and certainly set me on my hetrosexual path! She was EVERYTHING a boy could want in one smart & beautiful package…

  4. I think I am in love with the character Emma Peel than the actress Diana Rigg. There is something about this character that is utterly captivating. Does all the credit go to Ms. Rigg or to the producers, directors , stylus and writers who build this character. Did Diana Rigg decide to wear the black leather catsuit, did she decide to drive a Lotus Elan, did she create the eye on her apartment door for observing visitors, did she create the fact she was an accomplished jujitsu expert? All these things added up in making her and giving her MANAPPEAl. Even though Diana Rigg is physically (flat chested, large overbite, skinny,etc.) not what modern man may consider sexy , for some reason everything fit into making her one of the sexist women of all time (in my opinion).

  5. What a breath of fresh air seeing Ms Peel after all these years, the perfect 60s girlfriend, butifull complection and hair, poise and facel expretion fashion and ofcourse the Lotus. Thanks for the memories and good luck to you for the future x

  6. was a 13 year old boy 1965 .mrs peel was and still is the best memory from the sixtees decade .used lots of tissues ha ha

  7. Emma was too much for any one man but was a wistful wonder woman for me at 20 and still is 50 + years later.

  8. Emma Peel is the personification of the Modern day British woman, Sleek, Stylish, Strong, not incredibly lovely woman but one heck of a charmer, Hyaa, Judo woman of the 60s….. The Delicious Mrs Emma Peel in one of the avengers episodes said a guest….. Ahhhh….

  9. Emma Peel is the personification of the Modern day British woman, Sleek, Stylish, Strong, not incredibly lovely woman but one heck of a charmer, Hyaa, Judo woman of the 60s…..

  10. Emma Peel was the ONLY kick-ass woman on tv at the time of THE AVENGERS. She completely rocked it and made Emma Peel my hero. Emma Peel was a wonderful role-model girls at that time … women on television were mostly submissive wives and mothers.

  11. Miss Peel, We are needed, what man could resist? Man requires Woman of such stature(isk), I was 12 and taught me that the Elan was heaven,damming all Colonial modes pubuesant transportation, ha!

  12. Smart, stylish, and deadly. Radiant moonglow visage framed by a brunette flip. Knowing smile, dangerous doe-eyes, and a lithe, sensuous form broad-shouldered and well-beamed without the over-engineered bulwarks of the typical cinema starlet who soon founders and is forgotten. Come beat me at chess, best me with foil, and drive me anon with Elan. Emma Peel – I love you…forever!

  13. Diana Rigg was my celebrity crush without a doubt. I still marvel at how sexy and attractive she was in the Avengers series and in pictures of her from the 60s and 70s. She exuded confidence and sexuality. I know that she is 81 now but I would love to meet her. She was a special woman.

  14. Emma Peel was my first crush. I was only 12 years old when Emma Peel appeared on The Avengers and during her 3 years on the show I was learning to appreciate the female gender and she had one TERRIFIC body which was (great). Now if I could build a perfect girlfriend from the ground up, it would be just like her.

  15. I’m impressed by the generally good-natured discussion here. Count me among those who found Diana Rigg beautiful with her imperfections. Rigg had few television credits before The Avengers, but did appear on another show from ABC-TV (UK), which described Diana in a press release as “not a classic beauty.” She backed into the Emma Peel role on a 2-1 vote of producers after they abruptly fired Elizabeth Shepherd. (Honor Blackman, who actually knew judo, was the first television warrior woman with her crisper, shapelier Dr. Catherine Gale, but left for Goldfinger.) Rigg regularly said things like “my t*ts aren’t big enough,” but she brought considerable charm and the ability to at least look fierce in action scenes. Her attitude did the rest. I enjoyed many of Diana’s other stage and screen roles and am glad she’s fondly remembered.

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