George Lazenby has spoken of his sadness following the death of his James Bond co-star Dame Diana Rigg at the age of 82.
The veteran performer was best known for roles in The Avengers, Game Of Thrones and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, where she played Countess Teresa “Tracy” Bond, the wife of 007.
Dame Diana died peacefully at home after being diagnosed with cancer in March this year, her daughter confirmed.
Lazenby, 81, said on Instagram: “I’m so sad to hear of the death of Diana Rigg.
“She undoubtedly raised my acting game when we made On Her Majesty’s Secret Service together in 1968-9.
“I remember the press conference at the Dorchester in London, knowing she was going to play my wife.
“We had fun together on the set of the movie in Switzerland and Portugal.
“Her depth of experience really helped me.
“We were good friends on set.
“Much was made of our supposed differences but that was the press looking for a news story.
“I was sorry to have lost my wife in the film at the end.
“The death of Contessa Teresa di Vincenzo Draco created a memorable cinema moment over 50 years ago.
“As my new bride, Tracy Bond, I wept for her loss.
“Now, upon hearing of Dame Diana’s death, I weep again.
“My deepest condolences for her family.”
Bond producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli remembered Dame Diana for playing the only woman to have married 007 on screen.
They said: “We are very sad to hear of the passing of Dame Diana Rigg, the legendary stage and screen actress who was much beloved by Bond fans for her memorable performance as Tracy di Vicenzo in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the only woman to have married James Bond.
“Our love and thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time.”
In fact, 1967’s You Only Live Twice saw Sir Sean Connery’s Bond marry but only as part of an undercover ploy.
Playwrights Sir David Hare and Sir Tom Stoppard recalled her numerous stage appearances.
Sir David said: “Diana Rigg had a dazzling change of direction in middle age as a great classical actor.
“When Emma Peel played Euripides’ Medea, Albee’s Martha and Brecht’s Mother Courage she swept all before her”.
Sir Tom added: “For half her life Diana was the most beautiful woman in the room, but she was what used to be called a trooper.
“She went to work with her sleeves rolled up and a smile for everyone. Her talent was luminous”.
In her final decade, Dame Diana was cast as Olenna Tyrell in Game Of Thrones, the witty and sarcastic political mastermind popularly known as the Queen of Thorns.
The HBO fantasy epic paid tribute through a message on its official Twitter account.
It said: “Be a dragon. The realm will always remember Diana Rigg.”
John Bradley, who starred as Samwell Tarly in Game Of Thrones alongside Dame Diana, said the actress was “just wonderful”.
He said: “Diana Rigg was just wonderful. But you all knew that already. Everybody did. Very sad news.”
Edgar Wright, who directed Dame Diana’s final film, the upcoming thriller Last Night In Soho, said: “What to say about Diana Rigg?
“I could talk about her incredible career, but for now I’ll just say as a lifelong fan, it was beyond a thrill to work with her on her final film.
“She exceeded all my highest expectations, so blazingly talented, fiery & funny. Miss you already Dame D.”
The League Of Gentlemen’s Mark Gatiss said “there will never be another”.
He tweeted: “It was my great joy and privilege to have known Diana Rigg.
“From three slightly hysterical months at the Old Vic in All About Mother to writing The Crimson Horror for Diana and her wonderful daughter Rachael.
“Flinty, fearless, fabulous. There will never be another. RIP”.
Actress Mia Farrow wrote: “Oh no! She was magnificent!! Gratitude to the great Diana Rigg for so many fearless, fascinating performances. But we wanted more.”
Bafta, which awarded her two gongs in her lifetime, said in a statement: “We’re sad to hear of the passing of Dame Diana Rigg, Bafta-winner for her performance in Mother Love in 1990 and joint recipient of the Bafta Television Special Award in 2000 for The Avengers.”
A statement from the Royal Shakespeare Company said: “We were saddened to hear of the death of Diana Rigg. Diana joined us in 1959 and appeared in a number of RSC productions through the years.”
The group also shared a photo of Dame Diana playing Cordelia in King Lear in 1962, in a production directed by Peter Brook.
A statement from the National Theatre in London, where she appeared a number of times, said: “We’re very sad to hear of the death of Dame Diana Rigg.
“She was an extraordinary actress and appeared in many iconic National Theatre productions.”
Broadcaster Gyles Brandreth said: “Funny, feisty, beautiful, intelligent & gifted. A whole generation fell for her when we first saw on screen in The Avengers.
“It’s the end of an era – and a special life. A sad day. RIP Dame Diana Rigg.”
And the Macmillan Cancer Support charity thanked the actress.
A statement said: “We are so sad to hear of the death of Dame Diana Rigg.
“We want to thank her for her years of enduring support for Macmillan Cancer Support and pass on our condolences to her daughter Rachael and all the family.”