March 1974: TV Picture Life

Why Diana Rigg Wouldn't Bear Her Man's Love Child

In the name of love, she has sacrificed much.

For the sake of the man she adores, she has altered dreams, changed professional plans. But the one thing she would not do is bear his child without benefit of wedlock.

Such an attitude would not seem surprising if Diana Rigg had not found nearly as much fame for her outspoken New Morality sentiments as she had for her acting portrayals.

Diana, in fact, had made her I'll-Never-Marry sentiments so well known that many of the Today Crowd had held her up as an example of a person who dared to live as she liked without fear of reprisal, without concern about criticism.

For eight years, it was said, she had lived openly with Philip Saville, unconcerned that while she was sharing the producer's life, she was not sharing his name.

"Frankly," the British beauty told this reporter recently, "I never saw any reason to marry. I could never envision myself married. I just never understood how it could relate to me and my values."

But then in the spring of 1973, Diana and Saville went their separate ways.

And then, shortly after the breakup, Diana attended a London party and met Israeli artist Menachem Gueffen.

Within weeks, the suave, sophisticated Gueffen had taken her to Israel to meet his mother and father!

And, with parental blessings achieved, Menachem next led Diana to the spot she would never be - the marital altar!

The trip to that altar, now she admits readily, was not one she fought.

In fact, she reveals with a wicked glimmer in her eyes and a conspirital woman-to-woman tone to her words, Menachem may have thought that it was his idea that they marry. but the real truth was that it was Diana who quietly masterminded the movie.

"I knew," she admitted to this writer, "that I wanted to bear Menachem's children almost from the moment of our meeting.

"I also knew I could not become the mother of his children without becoming his wife."

She hesitated a moment, searching her mind for the words that would most accurately convey her thoughts. And then, her eyes sstudying mine as if she must watch for a reaction to her sentiments, she said carefully, "After all, Menachem is Jewish. And for that reason - if for no other - it would be impossible for me to feel free to bear his children out of wedlock."

She immediately sensed that her words were met with an attitude of confusion.

Was she trying to convey the impression that Jewish men were more moral than others, that they were special, that as a group they solidly and firmly reject the New Morality that has been sweeping over so much of the world?

"Not exactly that," she explained. "But I do think that the fact Menachem is an Israeli has much to do with his values.

"I do believe that standards are still much more traditional in Israel than they are in older lands.

"I believe that it's probably the same in Israel as it is in most countries that are new. When a land is young, moral standards, social standards are very firmly delineated. Don't you feel that's so?"

She asked the question not expecting, not awaiting an answer, plunging ahead with her thoughts to make a very revealing admission.

"Actually," she said, "it wouldn't have made any difference to me what faith Menachem was, what country he came from, what his values are. I knew almost immediately that I would never have his children without being his wife - because after 35 years of seeing no reason to marry, I had finally met the man who I loved enough so that I truly wanted to be joined with him in every way possible."

She hesitated again, lost in private thoughts. Then, shaking her head impatiently from side to side, as if anxious to clear her mind of clutter - as if this was the time to tell truths that had long been buried - she said softly, "Honestly, I don't believe I could have brought myself to have a love child regardless of the man I was involved with."

A time for total honesty, to reveal sentiments she possibly had never voiced before. In spite of her past, of her years avowal that there was no need for marriage, suddenly she was admitting that she believed the New Morality should only go so far.

It was Menachem she loved, Menachem she had married. However, if she had not attended that certain London party in spring of '73, had she never met the charming Israeli artist, there would have been other men. And regardless of the man, it was now becoming clear, Diana Rigg was emotionally incapable of bearing a love child.

"I don't feel," she said softly, "that it would be fair for a child to suffer because of my beliefs.

"If there was one degree of doubt that the child would be accepted by any segment of society, because of an 'illegitimacy' label - well, that would be a guilt I would not want to shoulder!"

She made it clear, "I personally am glad that the era of graphic sexuality has been upon us. I've taken part in it myself, appearing nude in a stage play last year. But television. of course, is something else again."

Something else, too, this reporter felt, might be Diana's attitude toward show-it-all acting now that she was a proper married lady and had a husband's opinion to consider.

Was it possible that the New Diana Rigg would no longer consent to allow screen and stage audiences to see her in the buff?

"Oh, no," she assured, "I don't believe that will happen. For, after all, Menachem approves of artistic nudity.

"His rigid morality doesn't involve that area, don't you see?

"Menachem is an artist, and so he appreciates the beauty of the nude form and why that beauty should be shared with the world if it's done in good taste.

"Menachem might be Jewish and an Israeli, but he is an artist. And he understands."

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