David Bianculli is founder and editor of TVWorthWatching.com. His latest book is “The Platinum Age of Television: From ‘I Love Lucy’ to ‘The Walking Dead,’ How TV Became Terrific.” He teaches TV and film history at Rowan University in New Jersey. He also is TV critic and guest host for NPR’s “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross. The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author.
(CNN)The recent death of Diana Rigg was announced, in some quarters, by a headline noting that a Game of Thrones actress had died at age 82. Such headlines, I have to presume, were written by people too young, or too unobservant, to have taken note of some of that pioneer-feminist-leading lady’s iconic, amazing roles.
David BianculliI have wonderful memories of Diana Rigg — most of them from watching her on TV and in the movies, but also on a pair of occasions when I met her while I was a TV critic covering the beat as she was starting to host the PBS Mystery! series in 1989. Let’s start, as we must, with her role as Mrs. Emma Peel, the pointedly equal partner of the dapper British spy John Steed, played by Patrick Macnee, in The Avengers. It was a tongue in cheek Sixties spy spoof (no relation to the current Marvel comic book movie series), and Rigg played her as a very liberated modern woman, decked out in wildly colored catsuits and fighting villains handily, with her own hands, as a martial arts expert at a time when very few female protagonists on TV did anything but cower when the fighting started.Rigg’s heroine — sexy, sassy, proudly independent — wasn’t the first female co-star on The Avengers. That honor went to Honor Blackman, who soon went to playing Pussy Galore opposite Sean Connery’s James Bond in Goldfinger. But Rigg and her character, when they arrived in 1966, became immediate international sensations (the show was produced in England, but exported worldwide, including here in the US). This was perhaps in part because the character, and the actress playing her, had been successfully road-tested by a focus group, in which male and female test subjects alike responded very positively to what they saw.Read More Photos: 60s TV stars Photos: 60s TV starsIconic women of old-school TV – Sally Field played the title role in the 1960s TV show “Gidget.” She was adventurous, sassy, charming — and even surfed. Her character was a departure from many female characters who played mothers and housewives in ’50s TV shows.Hide Caption 1 of 6 Photos: 60s TV starsIconic women of old-school TV – Barbara Billingsley wears pearls and a white blouse with lace stitching, her usual attire as mother and housewife June Cleaver in the 1950s show “Leave it to Beaver.” Female characters in ’60s TV moved beyond big skirts and heels into more adventurous territory.Hide Caption 2 of 6 Photos: 60s TV starsIconic women of old-school TV – Marlo Thomas plays Ann Marie in an episode of the ’60s sitcom “That Girl,” portraying a single woman who moves to New York to make it big as an actress.Hide Caption 3 of 6 Photos: 60s TV starsIconic women of old-school TV – Elizabeth Montgomery twitched her nose and made magic happen as Samantha the witch in “Bewitched,” a show that premiered in 1964.Hide Caption 4 of 6 Photos: 60s TV starsIconic women of old-school TV – English actress Diana Rigg plays the kickass spy Emma Peel in the ’60s television series “The Avengers.” Hide Caption 5 of 6 Photos: 60s TV starsIconic women of old-school TV – Diahann Carroll starred in a groundbreaking TV sitcom, “Julia,” playing an African American single mother — a daring show for the time.Hide Caption 6 of 6Women loved the liberated, completely equal character, so she had strong marks in the survey category called F-Appeal, shorthand for Female Appeal. She was even more enthusiastically received, though, by the men in the focus group — that would be M-Appeal. Emma Peel. Or Mrs. Peel, as her spy partner Steed always respectfully addressed her.But give Rigg credit for so much else, because she deserves it.At the same time she was starring in The Avengers, she played a fabulous Helena in director Peter Hall’s dazzling 1968 version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. And just after hanging up Mrs. Peel’s catsuits, she played the only woman to have married James Bond (in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service — though the Bond, sadly, was played by George Lazenby). And she soon starred opposite Vincent Price, adopting several guises as the loyal and murderous daughter of a failed Shakespearean actor (Price, of course), in 1973’s Theater of Blood.(In Rigg’s entire canon, that’s the sleeper treasure to seek out and savor; it’s available on Amazon Prime.)But that’s not to slight her more acclaimed and famous roles. She played Charlotte in the 1977 film version of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, and was a raw and unforgettable Regan in another Shakespeare adaptation, 1983’s King Lear, starring Laurence Olivier. And decades before playing the wise Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones, she found great roles in TV miniseries shown in the States on PBS: Mrs. Danvers in 1997’s Rebecca, the frightening Helena Vesey in 1989’s Mother Love, and Lady Honoria Dedlock in the 1985 adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House.She also found time, somehow, to write a singular book, in which she collected the nastiest and most negative reviews written by critics — all dismissing works now revered as classics — including her beloved Shakespeare. The title she gave to that collection reflected both the playfulness and sly intelligence of Dame Diana Rigg.Its title? No Turn Unstoned. Photos: People we've lost in 2020 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Hide Caption 1 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020British actress Diana Rigg, whose decades-long acting career spanned the 1960s spy series “The Avengers,” classical theater and “Game of Thrones,” died on Thursday, September 10, according to her agent. Rigg was 82.Hide Caption 2 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Hall of Fame baseball player Lou Brock died Sunday, September 6, at the age of 81, a Brock family representative confirmed to the St. Louis Cardinals. Brock was known for having the second-most stolen bases in MLB history.Hide Caption 3 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020David Graeber, an anthropologist and a leading figure of the Occupy Wall Street movement, died September 2, his wife told CNN. He was 59. Graeber was a professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics, known for his sharp critiques of capitalism and bureaucracy as well as his anarchist views.Hide Caption 4 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Tom Seaver, a three-time Cy Young Award winner and 12-time All-Star, died from complications of Lewy body dementia and Covid-19, the National Baseball Hall of Fame said on September 2. He was 75. Hide Caption 5 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020DJ Erick Morillo died September 1 at the age of 49. The Colombian-born artist, who was raised in New York and New Jersey, is known for his Reel 2 Real 1994 song “Go On Move,” also known as “I Like To Move It.”Hide Caption 6 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Former Indian president Pranab Mukherjee died at the age of 84, according to a tweet from his son on August 31.Hide Caption 7 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020John Thompson, the first Black basketball head coach to win the NCAA national championship, died at his Arlington, Virginia, home on August 30, a family source confirmed to CNN. He was 78.Hide Caption 8 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Cliff Robinson, a former NBA All-Star who played with the Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns, died August 29 at the age of 53.Hide Caption 9 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Actor Chadwick Boseman, who starred in “Black Panther” and portrayed iconic figures such as Jackie Robinson, James Brown and Thurgood Marshall, died August 28 at the age of 43. Boseman had been battling colon cancer since 2016, according to a statement posted on his Twitter account.Hide Caption 10 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Ben Cross, the English actor who starred in the Oscar-winning film “Chariots of Fire” and appeared in reboots of “Star Trek” and “Dark Shadows,” died August 18, according to his manager. He was 72. Hide Caption 11 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Robert Trump, the younger brother of US President Donald Trump, died August 15 at the age of 71. In a statement confirming his brother’s death, President Trump said: “He was not just my brother, he was my best friend. He will be greatly missed, but we will meet again. His memory will live on in my heart forever. Robert, I love you. Rest in peace.”Hide Caption 12 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Sumner Redstone, a media titan and billionaire who, as chairman of Viacom and National Amusements, drew headlines both for his deal-making as well as his turbulent personal life, died on August 11. He was 97. Redstone’s sprawling empire included CBS and Viacom, corporations that were the parents of a host of subsidiaries ranging from Paramount Pictures and MTV to Comedy Central and Spike TV.Hide Caption 13 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Wilford Brimley, the mustachioed actor known for his big screen roles in “Cocoon,” “Absence of Malice” and “The Natural,” died August 1. His acting credits also include television shows like “Our House,” and more recently, commercials for Quaker Oats and the American Diabetes Foundation. He was hospitalized in St. George, Utah, for medical problems and was receiving dialysis when he died. He was 85.Hide Caption 14 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Alan Parker, the celebrated British director whose credits include adored musicals “Fame,” “Evita” and “Bugsy Malone” and gritty crime dramas “Mississippi Burning” and “Midnight Express,” died July 31, the British Film Institute said in a statement on behalf of his family. He was 76.Hide Caption 15 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Herman Cain, a former presidential candidate and former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, died July 30 after being hospitalized due to coronavirus, according to an obituary sent from his verified Twitter account and Newsmax, where he was launching a television show. He was 74.Hide Caption 16 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Olivia de Havilland, a two-time Oscar winner and the last surviving star of “Gone With the Wind,” died July 26 at the age of 104, her publicist Lisa Goldberg told CNN.Hide Caption 17 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Actor John Saxon, who starred opposite Bruce Lee in the classic film “Enter the Dragon,” died July 25 at the age of 83, his wife told CNN. Saxon starred in nearly 200 movies and TV shows. He won the Golden Globe Award for new star of the year in 1958.Hide Caption 18 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Influential blues rock guitarist Peter Green, co-founder of Fleetwood Mac, died at the age of 73, his family’s legal representatives confirmed on July 25. Green wrote some of the band’s most notable hits, including “Albatross,” “Black Woman Magic” and “Man of the World.”Hide Caption 19 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020TV personality Regis Philbin died July 24 at the age of 88, according to a statement released by his family. Philbin was nominated for 37 Daytime Emmy Awards throughout his career and won six, and he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. In 2006, Philbin was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame and the Television Academy Hall of Fame.Hide Caption 20 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Charles Evers, the older brother of the late civil rights icon Medgar Evers, died July 22 at the age of 97, Rankin County Coroner David Ruth told CNN. Charles Evers was considered one of the pioneers of the civil rights movement. He became the NAACP’s state voter registration chairman in 1954, and after his brother’s death he took over his leadership roles and began drives to register Black voters. In 1969, Evers made history when he was elected mayor of Fayette, becoming the first Black mayor in Mississippi.Hide Caption 21 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020John Lewis, the son of sharecroppers who survived a brutal beating by police during a landmark 1965 march in Selma, Alabama, to become a towering figure of the civil rights movement and a longtime US congressman, died July 17 after a six-month battle with cancer. He was 80.Hide Caption 22 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Civil rights leader Rev. Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian died July 17, his daughter Kira Vivian told CNN. He was 95. Vivian participated in the Freedom Rides and worked alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.Hide Caption 23 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Grant Imahara, host of Discovery Channel’s “MythBusters” and Netflix’s “White Rabbit Project,” died at the age of 49, according to a statement from the Discovery Channel on July 13. No cause of death was available.Hide Caption 24 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020The body of former “Glee” actress Naya Rivera was found in a Southern California lake on July 13, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said. Rivera, 33, had been presumed dead after she went missing on July 8. She had gone to the lake that afternoon and rented a pontoon boat with her 4-year-old son, according to authorities. Rivera’s son was later seen on the boat, but his mother was nowhere to be found. Rivera played Santana Lopez on “Glee” and appeared in nearly every episode of the musical-comedy-drama. She was also on the sitcom “The Royal Family” and in the comedy film “The Master of Disguise.”Hide Caption 25 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Zindzi Mandela, South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark and daughter of anti-apartheid icons Nelson and Winnie Mandela, died July 13 at the age of 59, according to the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation.Hide Caption 26 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Actress Kelly Preston died after a two-year battle with breast cancer, her husband, John Travolta, said in an Instagram post on July 12. She was 57 years old.Hide Caption 27 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Country music scribe Charlie Daniels, best known for the hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” died July 6 at the age of 83.Hide Caption 28 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Ennio Morricone, an Oscar-winning film composer, died July 6 at the age of 91. Morricone is best known for the instantly recognizable melodies from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” and “Once Upon a Time in the West.”Hide Caption 29 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Nick Cordero, a Broadway actor who had admirers across the world rallying for his recovery, died July 5 after a battle with Covid-19, according to his wife, Amanda Kloots. He was 41.Hide Caption 30 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Carl Reiner, the writer, actor, director and producer whose many decades’ worth of credits — including “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “The 2000-Year-Old Man” — showcased a ready wit and a generous spirit, died June 29. He was 98.Hide Caption 31 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Milton Glaser, co-founder of New York Magazine and famed graphic designer behind the “I ♥ NY” logo, died on June 26, according to the magazine. It was his 91st birthday.Hide Caption 32 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Joel Schumacher, an eclectic director whose career ranged from a pair of divisive Batman movies to “St. Elmo’s Fire,” died June 22 after a yearlong battle with cancer, a representative for Schumacher told CNN. He was 80.Hide Caption 33 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Actor Ian Holm died June 19 at the age of 88, according to a statement from his agent. Holm had a long and varied acting career that saw him cast as a slew of characters, including Bilbo Baggins in the “Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy, Ash in Ridley Scott’s “Alien” and athletics coach Sam Mussabini in the 1981 movie “Chariots of Fire,” a performance for which he was nominated for an Oscar.Hide Caption 34 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Bonnie Pointer, one of the founding members of the singing group The Pointer Sisters, died June 8 at the age of 69. Pointer recorded five albums with her sisters before pursuing a solo career. She signed with Motown and scored her biggest solo hit with the 1978 disco track, “Heaven Must Have Sent You.”Hide Caption 35 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Indian actor Chiranjeevi Sarja, who starred in 20 films included the popular “Amma I Love You,” died of a heart attack on June 7, according to B.S. Yediyurappa, chief minister of Karnataka. Sarja was 39.Hide Caption 36 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, who was known for his monumental environmental artworks with his late wife, Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, died May 31 at the age of 84.Hide Caption 37 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Playwright Larry Kramer, a trailblazing AIDS activist, died May 27 at the age of 84. With his essay “1,112 and Counting,” Kramer helped shift the nation’s attention to the spread of AIDS. And his continued activism, while often divisive, helped propel the United States to respond to the crisis in the way it did.Hide Caption 38 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Stanley Ho, Macao gambling tycoon and one of Hong Kong’s first billionaires, died on May 26, his family said. He was 98.Hide Caption 39 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Eddie Sutton, the first college basketball coach to lead four different schools to the NCAA tournament, died on May 23, according to his family. He was 84.Hide Caption 40 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Jerry Sloan, the longtime Utah Jazz head coach who led the team to the NBA Finals twice and ranks third among NBA coaches on the all-time wins list, died May 22 at the age of 78.Hide Caption 41 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Annie Glenn, a lifelong advocate for those with speech impediments and wife of the late astronaut John Glenn, died of complications from Covid-19 on May 19. She was 100.Hide Caption 42 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Ravi Zacharias, who spent his life defending Christianity through books and lectures, died May 19 at the age of 74. Zacharias was a leading figure among Christian Apologists -— a branch of Christian theology that defends Christian doctrines against objections.Hide Caption 43 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Ken Osmond, an actor best known for his role as troublemaker Eddie Haskell on “Leave It to Beaver,” died at the age of 76, his son Eric told The Hollywood Reporter on May 18.Hide Caption 44 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Director Lynn Shelton, known for the films “Humpday” and “Your Sister’s Sister,” died May 15, according to her representative, Adam Kersh. She was 54. Kersh said Shelton died of a previously undiagnosed blood disorder. Her partner, the comedian and actor Marc Maron, said Shelton collapsed Friday after having been ill for a week.Hide Caption 45 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Actor Fred Willard died on May 15, his daughter, Hope Mulbarger, confirmed to CNN. He was 86. Willard was known for his roles in the movie “Best in Show” and TV sitcoms “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Modern Family.”Hide Caption 46 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Phyllis George, the broadcast television pioneer and former Miss America, died May 14, her children confirmed to CNN. She was 70. In 1975, George became the first female co-anchor of the football pregame show “The NFL Today.” Hide Caption 47 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Gregory Tyree Boyce, an actor who appeared in the 2008 film “Twilight,” was found dead in a Las Vegas residence on May 13, a spokesperson with the Clark County Office of the Coroner/Medical Examiner confirmed to CNN. He was 30. According to the coroner’s office, Boyce was found dead with Natalie Adenike Adepoju, 27. The cause and manner of death is still being determined. A public information officer for the Las Vegas Police Department told CNN in an email that the deaths were “not a criminal incident” and referred any inquiry to the coroner’s office.Hide Caption 48 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Actor and comedian Jerry Stiller died of natural causes, his son, actor Ben Stiller, said in a tweet on May 11. He was 92. Jerry Stiller was perhaps best known for his roles on the TV sitcoms “Seinfeld” and “The King of Queens.”Hide Caption 49 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Soul singer Betty Wright died from cancer May 10 at the age of 66, according to reports from multiple media outlets. Wright was known for her song “Clean Up Woman,” which became a top five hit, according to the biography posted on her verified Facebook page.Hide Caption 50 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Little Richard, the screaming, preening, scene-stealing wild man of early rock ‘n’ roll with hits like “Tutti Frutti” and “Long Tall Sally,” died May 9 at the age of 87, Dick Alen, his former agent, confirmed to CNN.Hide Caption 51 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Paul “Bear” Vasquez, whose cries of exaltation at a double rainbow turned him into a viral star, died May 9 at the age of 57, according to the Mariposa County Coroner’s Office. “Bear” lived in relative solitude for much of his life. But his sincere love of nature — and rainbows in particular — endeared him to millions.Hide Caption 52 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Roy Horn, who dazzled audiences for decades as half of the animal and magic act Siegfried and Roy, died of complications from the coronavirus on May 8. He was 75.Hide Caption 53 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Brian Howe, former frontman for the British rock group Bad Company, died May 5 at the age of 66.Hide Caption 54 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Don Shula, the longtime Miami Dolphins coach and architect of the only perfect season in NFL history, died May 4 at age 90. Though he spent several seasons in the NFL as a player and served as head coach of the Baltimore Colts, he is best known for his quarter-century at the helm of the Miami Dolphins. He won more games than any head coach in NFL history.Hide Caption 55 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Matt Keough, a former major-league pitcher and an occasional figure on “Real Housewives of Orange County,” died May 1 at the age of 64. The right-handed, mustachioed Keough pitched in 170 games for the Oakland A’s from 1977 to 1983, earning an All-Star Game appearance as a rookie in 1978 and the American League’s Comeback Player of the Year Award in 1980. Hide Caption 56 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Actor Sam Lloyd, who most notably portrayed lawyer Ted Buckland on the TV comedy “Scrubs,” died at age 56, his agent said May 1. Lloyd’s television career also included roles in “Desperate Housewives,” “Seinfeld,” “Modern Family,” “The West Wing,” “Cougar Town,” “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Shameless,” according to his agent.Hide Caption 57 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Veteran Bollywood actor Rishi Kapoor died in a hospital after a two-year battle with leukemia, his family representative confirmed in a statement on April 30. He was 67. Kapoor’s first lead role — in the 1973 romantic film “Bobby” — won him the Filmfare Award, India’s equivalent of the Oscars, for best actor.Hide Caption 58 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Bollywood star Irrfan Khan, known internationally for his roles in “Life Of Pi” and “Slumdog Millionaire,” died April 29, his representatives confirmed. He was 53. Khan, one of India’s best-known and most beloved actors, revealed in March 2018 that he had been diagnosed with a rare neuroendocrine tumor — an abnormal growth that begin in the body’s specialized neuroendocrine cells, according to the Mayo Clinic.Hide Caption 59 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Troy Sneed, a Grammy-nominated gospel singer and record label founder, died April 27 of complications from Covid-19. He was 52. Sneed was known for gospel radio hits including “My Heart Says Yes” and “Worked It Out.”Hide Caption 60 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Theodore Gaffney, who photographed the Freedom Riders as they protested segregation in the 1960s, died April 19 of complications related to the novel coronavirus. He was 92. Gaffney was also one of the first black photographers in the White House.Hide Caption 61 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Howard Finkel, the legendary ring announcer and WWE Hall of Famer, died at the age of 69, the company announced on April 16. Finkel would mark championship victories with his signature call, “and Nnneeeww world champion!”Hide Caption 62 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020NFL Hall of Famer Willie Davis died April 15 at the age of 85, according to the Green Bay Packers. The defensive end, who in 1965 became the first black captain for the Packers, spent 10 years with the team.Hide Caption 63 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Brian Dennehy, a versatile character actor whose career spanned five decades, died April 15 at the age of 81, his talent agency confirmed. Dennehy, a two-time Tony Award winner, starred in a wide range of films, often in tough-guy roles.Hide Caption 64 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Former NFL quarterback Tarvaris Jackson died in a car crash in Alabama on April 12. He was 36 years old. During his 10-year career with the NFL, he had 45 career touchdowns.Hide Caption 65 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Stirling Moss, a British motor racing legend widely considered one of the greatest drivers never to win a Formula One title, died April 12 at the age of 90. Moss was an active race driver between 1948 and 1962, competing in numerous classifications and winning 212 of the 529 races he competed in.Hide Caption 66 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020NHL center Colby Cave, who played for the Edmonton Oilers and the Boston Bruins, died April 11 at the age of 25. He died days after doctors operated on him to remove a colloid cyst that was putting pressure on his brain, according to NHL.com. He had been in a medically induced coma since suffering a brain bleed overnight.Hide Caption 67 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Influential singer-songwriter John Prine, whose career spanned five decades, died April 7 due to complications related to coronavirus, his publicist confirmed. He was 73. Hide Caption 68 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Legendary baseball player Al Kaline died April 6 at the age of 85, according to the Detroit Tigers. Kaline played his entire career in Detroit, where he was an All-Star 18 times, won a World Series in 1968 and earned the nickname “Mr. Tiger.”Hide Caption 69 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Veteran actress Shirley Douglas, the wife of Donald Sutherland and mother of Kiefer Sutherland, died April 5 due to complications surrounding pneumonia, Kiefer Sutherland said on Twitter. She was 86.Hide Caption 70 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020NFL Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell, who became the first African American to play for the Washington Redskins, died April 5, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was 84.Hide Caption 71 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Timothy Brown, a former NFL star and actor on the comedy/drama “M*A*S*H,” died April 4 in Southern California. He was 82.Hide Caption 72 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Adam Schlesinger, the co-founder of pop-rock band Fountains of Wayne and an Oscar-nominated songwriter, died Wednesday, April 1, from complications related to coronavirus. He was 52.Hide Caption 73 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Bill Withers, the singer-songwriter whose soulful hits included “Lean On Me,” Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Lovely Day,” died March 30 of heart complications, according to his family. He was 81.Hide Caption 74 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Lorena Borjas, a transgender Latinx activist from New York who spent decades advocating for people from marginalized communities, died March 30 from complications due to the novel coronavirus, according to a close friend. Borjas, 59, spent decades serving transgender people, undocumented immigrants, sex workers and those living with HIV/AIDS, providing them with legal assistance and other services.Hide Caption 75 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Tomie dePaola, a children’s author and illustrator known for his book “Strega Nona,” died on March 30. The 85-year-old author died from complications from surgery after he fell in his barn which served as a studio, according to a statement from his literary agent. DePaola authored nearly 300 books, including “Oliver Button is a Sissy,” “The Legend of Old Befana,” and the New York Times best-seller “Quiet.”Hide Caption 76 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Rocker Alan Merrill, who wrote and recorded the original version of the hit song “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” died March 29 after being diagnosed with coronavirus, his daughter told CNN. Merrill, 69, was a big star in Japan in the 1970s and wrote and recorded the anthem “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” in 1975 with his band The Arrows. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts covered the song in 1982 and the single shot to the top of the Billboard Hot 100.Hide Caption 77 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Famed Japanese comedian Ken Shimura died March 29 after contracting the novel coronavirus, his representatives said. Shimura, 70, has been described as “Japan’s Robin Williams,” with the country’s television networks heavily covering his death.Hide Caption 78 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Joe Diffie, a country music singer known for his lighthearted odes to country life that reached mainstream success in the 1990s, died March 29 from complications of coronavirus, his publicist said in a news release. Diffie was 61.Hide Caption 79 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Fred “Curly” Neal, whose flashy dribbling skills and smile made him a Harlem Globetrotters legend, died March 26. He was 77.Hide Caption 80 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020World-renowned jazz musician Manu Dibango died of coronavirus on March 24, according to his official Facebook page. He was 86. The Cameroonian saxophone player achieved global fame in the 1970s for his style of mixing jazz with traditional music from his home country. Dibango was also a big influence for many musicians around the globe for several decades and his music was often sampled; most famously in Michael Jackson’s hit “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin.”Hide Caption 81 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Kenny Rogers, whose legendary music career spanned six decades, died on March 20. He was 81. Rogers had 24 No. 1 hits during his career, and more than 50 million of his albums sold in the United States alone.Hide Caption 82 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Swedish actor Max Von Sydow, who made his name in the films of Ingmar Bergman before featuring in international hits like “Game of Thrones,” died March 8 at the age of 90. He was a well-known figure in both European and American cinema, starring in films from Bergman’s masterpiece “The Seventh Seal” to international blockbusters such as “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”Hide Caption 83 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020James Lipton, whose serious interviews with high-profile stars “Inside the Actors Studio” for more than 20 years made him a well-known pop-culture figure, died March 2 at the age of 93.Hide Caption 84 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Hosni Mubarak, the former Egyptian president who ruled for nearly 30 years until being overthrown, died on February 25. He was 91. During his 29 years in power, Mubarak survived would-be assassins and ill health, crushed a rising Islamist radical movement and maintained the peace pact with neighboring Israel that got his predecessor killed.Hide Caption 85 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Clive Cussler, the bestselling author and sea explorer, died on February 24, his family announced in a Facebook post.He was 88.Hide Caption 86 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Katherine Johnson, a pioneering mathematician who, along with a group of other brilliant black women, helped make US space travel possible, died on February 24. She was 101. Her life and work served as inspiration for the film “Hidden Figures.”Hide Caption 87 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Former Major League Baseball shortstop Tony Fernandez died at age 57, the Toronto Blue Jays tweeted on February 16. He suffered a stroke and had been struggling with kidney issues, the team said. During his 17-year career, Fernandez won four Gold Glove Awards, made five All-Star appearances and won a World Series title with the 1993 Blue Jays.Hide Caption 88 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Caroline Flack, the former host of the hit British reality show “Love Island,” died at the age of 40, her family confirmed on February 15. A family lawyer told PA Media that Flack committed suicide and her body was found in her east London apartment.Hide Caption 89 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Actress Lynn Cohen, best known for her role as Magda the housekeeper in “Sex and the City,” died February 14, according to her manager. She was 86.Hide Caption 90 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Actor Robert Conrad, known for the television show “The Wild Wild West,” died February 8 at the age of 84, according to family spokesman Jeff Ballard.Hide Caption 91 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Kirk Douglas, one of the great Hollywood leading men whose off-screen life was nearly as colorful as his on-screen exploits, died February 5 at the age of 103, according to his son, actor Michael Douglas.Hide Caption 92 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Willie Wood, a Hall of Fame football player and former safety for the Green Bay Packers, died February 3 at the age of 83, according to a statement from the team. Wood won two Super Bowls as a member of the Packers.Hide Caption 93 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Mary Higgins Clark, the bestselling “Queen of Suspense” who wrote dozens of suspense novels sold worldwide, died January 31 at age 92, Clark’s publisher confirmed on Twitter. Clark’s writing career spanned decades and included bestselling titles such as “Loves Music, Loves to Dance” and “A Stranger Is Watching.”Hide Caption 94 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020NASCAR driver John Andretti, a nephew of racing legend Mario Andretti, died from colon cancer on January 30, according to a tweet from Andretti Autosport. He was 56.Hide Caption 95 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020NBA legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on January 26. He was 41. Bryant was one of nine victims in the crash. His 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was also killed.Hide Caption 96 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Leila Janah, a social entrepreneur who poured her energy into creating job opportunities for the world’s poorest communities, died January 24 due to complications from epithelioid sarcoma, a rare soft-tissue cancer. She was 37.Hide Caption 97 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Jim Lehrer, the legendary debate moderator and former anchor of the “NewsHour” television program, died January 23 at the age of 85. Lehrer anchored the “NewsHour,” the flagship newscast on public television in the United States, for 36 years.Hide Caption 98 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020″Monty Python” star Terry Jones died at age 77, Britain’s PA Media news agency reported on January 22. Jones was a member of the much-loved British comedy group and also directed a number of its most popular films, including “Life of Brian” and “The Meaning of Life.”Hide Caption 99 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Americana singer and songwriter David Olney, whose music was recorded by Linda Ronstadt, Steve Young, Emmylou Harris and others, died of an apparent heart attack while performing in Florida on January 18, according to a statement on his website. He was 71.Hide Caption 100 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Former professional wrestler Rocky “Soul Man” Johnson, WWE Hall of Famer and the father of actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, died at the age of 75, the WWE announced on January 15.Hide Caption 101 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who ruled Oman since 1970, died January 10, according to the official Oman News Agency. He died at age 79 and was the longest-serving Arab leader.Hide Caption 102 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Rapper 5th Ward Weebie was a major player in the distinctive bounce music scene in New Orleans. He died January 9 at the age of 42. His publicist said he had a “heart attack which turned into emergency heart surgery and ultimately heart failure.”Hide Caption 103 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Don Larsen, the man who pitched the only perfect game in World Series history, died January 8 at the age of 90, according to his representative Andrew Levy.Hide Caption 104 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Elizabeth Wurtzel, whose 1994 memoir “Prozac Nation” ignited conversations about the then-taboo topic of clinical depression, died on January 7. She was 52. Her husband, Jim Freed, told CNN she died following a battle with metastatic breast cancer that had spread to her brain.Hide Caption 105 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Neil Peart, who helped propel the band Rush to global stardom and sealed his place as one of the greatest drummers in rock music, died January 7 after a long battle with brain cancer, according to a family spokesman. He was 67.Hide Caption 106 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020Derek Acorah, a popular TV psychic medium and former host of the British reality show “Most Haunted,” died January 3 at the age of 69.Hide Caption 107 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020John Baldessari, one of America’s most influential conceptual artists, died on January 2. He was 88. Baldessari was renowned for combining photography with various other media, with some of his most iconic works featuring colorful dots pasted over subjects’ faces in portraits and found photographs.Hide Caption 108 of 109 Photos: People we've lost in 2020David Stern, the former NBA commissioner who reshaped the league and presided over its skyrocketing growth for three decades, died on January 1. He was 77.Hide Caption 109 of 109That book, which she had published in 1982, gave me the opening I needed to have an introductory conversation with Diana Rigg at a PBS press tour party, welcoming the actress to the PBS and Mystery! fold, in Los Angeles — summer of 1989. The party was attended by close to 200 television critics, many, many of whom had grown up in the Sixties watching and adoring Emma Peel, and all of whom wanted to get Rigg’s attention — and make an impression, somehow.Another TV critic, Mark Dawidziak, and I came up with the idea of approaching her to ask her questions — not about The Avengers, or even Mystery!, but about No Turn Unstoned, which, as critics ourselves, we thought was a wildly clever and cheeky thing for her to do.It worked. We had a long and delightful conversation — and after the party, when I returned to my hotel room, the phone rang. It was my wife, back in New Jersey, informing me that our house had been hit by lightning and burned down. The kids and she were safe, but that was the end of my 1989 summer TV press tour.Get our free weekly newsletter
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The next time I saw Diana Rigg was in New York, when she was once again promoting Mystery!, this time on her own. I interviewed her in her hotel room, and when the interview was over and I turned off my tape recorder, she handed me her hotel phone and told me to call home to see if everything was okay. One of the PBS publicists had told her about what happened to me the night of our previous conversation, and she wanted to make sure that, in this particular instance, lightning didn’t strike twice. It hadn’t. But I’ve never forgotten that gesture, that moment, or that very, very nice woman.
400 Bad Request
400 Bad Request