November 1974: Silver Screen

"I give this marriage a year!"

Diana's sad prediction comes true.

First he threw her luggage out of the window of a hotel in Tel Aviv, Israel. Then she proposed to him. He said yes and moved into her flat in London, England.

Thus began the marriage of two of the celebrity world's most colorful and tempestuous characters - Diana Rigg, the lady who karate chopped her way into the hearts of television viewers in her role as Emma Peel on "The Avengers" and Menachem Gueffen, an Israeli born artist whose volatile way with women had already got him trapped into two previous marriages.

At the time of their wedding, Diana who had never been married before, told the press, "I have met my match. We fight all the time, but it's a marvelous, marvelous relationship."

Then, with what turned out to be more than a little foresight, Diana added, "I gave the marriage a year."

The year is up and less than a month ago the couple announced that they were about to embark on a "trial separation." Friends claim that the trial separation will probably become an extended split which will most likely end up in the divorce courts.

While their break-up may not have come as a surprise to anyone who knew them, their marriage most certainly did. Diana has always held very definite views on what she should do with her life and getting married wasn't part of them.

"No, I don't want to get married," she once said after she had been living with film producer Philip Saville for close to eight years. "I don't want to get married - ever."

"If you're not religious - as I'm not - I don't think that the bit of paper and the ring and all the conventional trappings make any difference to a relationship," Diana explained at the time.

When asked if she would consider marriage if she wanted to have children, Diana replied, "I don't know. I'm not good at planning ahead. I don't know how I'll feel until that time. But I still think that marriage has a very important role in society. I should hate to think that I was influencing anyone else with my actions.

"What I do is the result of my own personal beliefs. The way I live is the way I believe is right for me - and it's nothing to do with anyone else."

And if you think Diana Rigg is all talk and no action - you're wrong. Diana has long held the repuation of a young woman who follows her own drummer.

When, as a highly successful stage actress, Diana announced that she had accepted the role of a kinky, leather-clad, muscle-woman in television's "The Avengers", her friends and co-workers were horrified. They warned her that she would lose the fans that she already had as a serious actress, then she would never be able to return to the stage, that a stint with a televison series would destroy her acting ability. With her usual sense of independence, Diana went right ahead and turned her period as the high-kicking Emma Peel into a financial, professional and personal success.

Her decision to accept the role of Emma Peel was not the first time Diana has shown her phenomenal self will and independence. Once, during a year of doing odd jobs "just for the heck of it" she worked as a waitress in a sailor's bar where, as she says herself, "I spent most of my time fighting for my life."

More recently, Diana agreed to shed her clothes on stage for her play "Abelard and Heloise." Diana and her co-star Keith Michell hold the record of being the first star-rank players to shed their clothes on the London or Broadway stage and Diana wasn't the least bit surprised by the furor it created.

"We rehearsed the scene and kept it very quiet," she says. "Then we took it up to Exeter to open there first. We thought Exeter was just a province and since absolutely nobody knew there was a nude scene, we hoped to sneak it in. But instead, an enormous furor broke loose right away. All the press in London were down on us, most of the without having seen the play. 'Hair' had already been in London with it's nude scene, but no one knew those kids, and no one minded them undressing. But Keith and I were known and that made all the difference."

And then there is the matter of Diana's marriage. Diana takes the entire blame for the break up on her own shoulders and says, "I suppose it's due to my bloody awful independence."

Menachem admits that from the very beginning of their relationship, Diana held the upper hand.

The two first met at a London dinner party. "It was not an immediate attraction, as if I wanted to grab her behind the bushes," recalls Menachem. "We talked about Israel and her leaky roof."

According to friends, Menachem didn't have a chance after that first meeting. "Something about him attracted Diana to a point where she just had to have him," said an aquaintance. "Diana became the huntress." She followed him to Israel and married him.

At first, everything was blissful. Diana's longtime housekeeper continued to keep their home running smoothly while Diana and Menachem slept until 11 each day, played backgammon and romped in the overgrown rose garden that surrounds Diana's home. But this idyllic life couldn't go on forever, and the two started going their separate ways. Diana went back to her acting career and Menachem went back to his painting.

The final blow to their marriage came when Gueffen, a successful artist in his own right (his paintings sell for $5,000 each) held his first art show since their marriage. It was headlined in all the local papers as, "Diana Rigg's husband stages a show."

This was just too much for Gueffen and shortly afterwards the two politely but coolly announced their separation. Menachem has gone off to paint over his wounds and Diana, it is said, is forgetting her sorrows in the company of her old roommate Philip Saville.

When Diana Rigg said of her marriage to Gueffen, "I give this marriage a year," she wasn't kidding!

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