June 1967: Inside TV & Movie

Diana Is Dynamite

Get ready for the hottest explosion in the televion industry in years! It's going to be scintillating auburn-haired Diana Rigg, star of the British TV series The Avengers. The very independent Diana plays Emma Peel, an action-packed woman that is quite capable of taking care of herself, as anyone that has seen the show can attest.

She is quite capable of taking care of her own career, too. In just a few short years, the twenty-eight year old, 5'8" (she claims although she looks much taller) lass has created a role that has become the focus of the in crowd, and many others as well. The Avengers was cancelled last season by the networks, but there was such a flood of protesting fan mail that the show had to be re-instated.

"The show offers a real adventure in the classic cloak and dagger manner," the striking Diana says. "The swinger generation of today wants fast-clip thrills and I try to give it to them." She certainly does.

Her producer describes her quality as "animal-like." "She is like a tigress stalking her prey... sleek, beautiful, and completely physical. I guess what it boils down to basically is sex appeal. Hers is the quality that excites men and makes women envious, yet it's all done with complete elegance; sort of a combination tigress and gazelle."

We asked Diana what she thought about her image. "Well, I won't comment on my animal qualities, but it took a lot of hard work to reach this point. People think you become a star overnight and it just isn't so." Her big brown eyes revealed the experience that the years taught her.

She began her theatrical career in her teens, studying at England's famed Royal Academy. Surprisingly, in the early years of her career she was a Shakespearean actress, and a very good one, as a regular member of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre of Stratford. She was with this troupe for five years and toured on both sides of the Atlantic. "It gave me the background and discipline for TV," she says.

Whatever the training did, it hits full force on her show. Diana looks equally at ease whether she is giving some thug a decisive karate chop or riding in the English countryside in a Rolls Royce with her co-star, Patrick Macnee. "She's marvelous, so adaptable," he says of Diana. "People often ask about our relationship on the show and about all I can say is that it's rather a camaraderie. Our relationship isn't actually physical, in a romantic sense, which isn't to say that it might not be in the future," he added with a grin. She's not a secret agent, but she shares a love of adventure, and this is what we want the audience to feel."

Does her love of adventure enter into her private life? "Oh, most definitely," says Diana. "I love doing things that are out of the ordinary. I like feeling free and if that means bucking convention, then that's me."

Diana's rebel nature enters many parts of her life on screen and off. She designs some of her clothes for the show, not to mention filling them quite lusciously. "I have sort of a fashion figure and my clothes have to be cut specially." Diana used to be a model in between acting jobs. She dislikes the wild publicity that she is getting as the star of a hit show. She is very jealous about her privacy and is not used to fan mail and autograph hounds. "We never got this kind of attention at Stratford and it's rather perplexing." Not so perplexing, Diana, when you're sitting on this side of the TV screen.

Now that her show is on top in England, her producers would like to make it as big a hit in this country. From all indications, she shouldn't have any trouble. Of course, this would mean a trip to the States and working over here.

"I think that would be marvelous," she beams. "I love America. There is a certain way Americans have of looking at life that is much more honest than in Europe. They're too tied down by tradition over here," she whispered confidentially. "Of course in some areas, like love and such, Europeans could give you folks a few tips. On the Continent especially, they've always been very sophiticated about matters of sex." How did she feel about American men in comparison to European men?

"They each have something to say for them. Europeans take more advantage of a woman. They're more brutal. They love very hard and when it's over just go on to the next girl without a thought. They're jealous lovers, very impulsive and thoroughly exciting. American men are exciting too, but in a more placid sense. They respect their women more and probably make the best husbands in the world. They're excellent providers, and have more of a cuddly quality about them. It's like they're darling little boys in men's bodies. It's very charming, really."

Diana hasn't been linked with anyone romantically as yet and we asked her if she had any plans for marriage. The sands of time, and all that. "Why I'm still plenty young enough. That's the trouble with American women. If they're not married by the time they're twenty-five, it's like having a black eye. I don't think like that at all. Some day he'll come along, the man I'll love. But for now I'm too busy living and working to think of settling down. Women should experience life as much as men before they get tied to apron strings and children."

It's probably this kind of outlook on life that makes Diana the magnetic and individual personality that she is. Her appeal certainly osn't to anyone bogged down by traditional ideas and morality. "There is an entirely new concept of living that is developing in this generation," she says. "People refuse to be ruled by old codes and the new rules are being written and broken as we go along. That's why Avengers is so popular. It makes people feel like they are right on top the action, right where it's happening." As far as we can see, Diana Rigg is what's happening on TV.

Diana said she had to return to the set and we asked her for one last question. What can we expect of her talents in the future? Movies, perhaps? "I really don't know for sure, but there has been talk of a movie. I would certainly love to make on, especially in Hollywood. I love the wild life in California. Bit for now I just concentrate on making a success of my TV series and develop myself as an actress even more." Diana flashed a toothy smile as she left and we couldn't help but observe that the inward glow of talent is certainly coming to the surface.

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