December 1973: Movie World

What Do You Do When Your Fiance Throws You Out Bags And All?: If You're Diana Rigg, You Marry Him!

"I'm leaving you!" yelled the beautiful, sophisticated woman. "Fine - I'll help you pack!" retorted the equally handsome, curly-haired man.

He did help the lady pack her belongings and then, as she tells it, "He picked up my suitcase and all my clothes and threw them out of the window, I was amazed."

We bet passers-by were amazed, too, since the couple were in a hotel room six floors up - in Tel Aviv, Israel. But did the woman get angry and tell the man to get out of her sight forever? No. A few days later she married him!

"I think it was the first time I seriously felt I'd met my match," said the bride, British actress Diana Rigg - loved by American audiences as the karate-chopping counterspy, Mrs. Emma Peel, in TV's The Avengers and now with a new series named after her.

The bridegroom who illustrated so dramatically who would rule that roost is Menachem Gueffen, a 43-year-old Israeli painter. It's his second marriage so maybe he learned a thing or two the first time around.

The marriage is a first for Diana, however, who less than two weeks before her wedding said in an interview she saw no reason for getting married and that no one would ever own her. Indeed, at 34, she seemed one of the truly independent women of the entertainment world. But apparently she was waiting for the right man to come along, and when he did - whammo! that was that. As the lady said, she met her match. But she did marry him in secret, however.

Diana Rigg is a gal many women wish they could match - both in cool slinky beauty and in acting versatility which ranges all the way from the wisecrack to icy solemnity. Her years away from the TV screen weren't wasted. In fact, she is now only on a leave of absence from the British National Theatre to star in her new comedy series, aptly titled The Diana Rigg Show.

For the first year, the show's main theme will be sex. The producer explained his decision this way: "I figured there were only two subjects not oversaturated on the tube: falconry and sex. I've had no experience in falconry, so I decided to work with the other."

Just before she left London to begin filming the series in Los Angeles, Diana told an interviewer she wasn't looking forward to living in L.A. because its residents "are so square - they play tennis and jog." Assured that everyone out there in TV Town wasn't engaged in such activities, Diana confided that what she really worried about was the total change of life style.

"I'm English and the English rhythms are my rhythms, and suddenly I've got to adapt myself to a new society and new rhythms, and I don't know how easy that will be. I can go anywhere I want here (in London), feed whatever appetite I want to feed. But I've got to start afresh in Los Angeles and find out where to feed my appetites - whether for beautiful pictures, to buy books, to sit with friends and talk, to walk alone. I know exactly where to go here to do those things, but not there."

Nobody really takes Diana Rigg seriously, however, when she says she thinks it will be hard to adjust to a new scene. After all, she's handled so many various acting roles so brilliantly, why can't she manage a slight change of character in her own life too? Even though it means being a new bride to boot.

After working in British repertory theaters, Diana joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in London, playing leads in tragedies like King Lear and comedies like Twelfth Night. In 1965 her role as the spy chaser, Emma Peel, made her a trans-Atlantic smash hit.

After that series ended, Diana starred in a James Bond movie, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, then she joined the British National Theatre for highly acclaimed roles in a comedy, Jumpers, and in Shakespeare's most tragic feminine role, Lady Macbeth.

Just before flying to California to begin filming her new TV series, the multi-talented actress was playing another role that received critical and popular raves - that of Celimene in Moliere's The Misanthrope. At the same time she was seen on screen in downtoan London cinemas as Vincent Price's daughter in a spoofy horror flick called Theatre of Blood. In this film, she gets to wear so many disguises as she played the murderer's assistant - at least a departure from most horror movies which allow women to be nothing but sexy victims.

"I did it for fun because it appealed to my sense of humor,: she said about the role. "I had no idea it was going to be so enormously enjoyable, which it was, mainly because of Vincent, who is heaven."

When she returns to London from Los Angeles, she is scheduled to take the leading role, once played by Sarah Bernhardt, in the National Theatre's production of Racine's Phedre. A busy girl, that Diana.

The unusual talent and success of Diana Rigg was probably best summed up by Robert Brustein, former head of Yale School of Drama, writing from London in The New York Times: "Instead of being discovered on-stage and then whisked off to Hollywood, Miss Rigg returned to investigate her talents as a classical performer after she had already established herself as a commercial star. Although she will probably play in movies again as well as on television, it is doubtful she will ever stray for long from the kind of theatrical roles she now approaches with such strength and insight."

We hope Miss Rigg's marriage won't keep her from those roles, but we doubt that her talented, demanding husband will expect anything less from her except fulfillment of herself as an actress as well as a wife. We hope she has many roles to play in the years to come, but only one husband for many of those years!

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