Natasha Richardson: 1963-2009

Star of stage and screen succumbs to brain injuries sustained in ski accident.

by | March 18, 2009 | Comments

Natasha Richardson, the Tony award-winning actress who starred in a number of highly regarded films and plays, has passed away, succumbing to injuries she sustained during a skiing accident on March 16. A written statement released by a publicist for Richardson’s husband, Liam Neeson, confirmed her death, adding that her family was “shocked and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Natasha” and adding that “they are profoundly grateful for the support, love and prayers of everyone, and ask for privacy during this very difficult time.” No details on a specific cause of death were given for Richardson, who was 45.

The daughter of Tony Richardson and Vanessa Redgrave, Natasha Richardson entered the family business at a young age, making an appearance in 1968’s The Charge of the Light Brigade when she was just four years old. Despite this fast start, and a family crowded with thespians (including sister Joely Richardson, aunt Lynn Redgrave, uncle Corin Redgrave, and cousin Jemma Redgrave), Richardson ended up taking the slow and steady approach to her career, attending drama school and working in regional theatre before moving on to higher-profile productions.

Though she booked a handful of lesser-known roles in American films and television series, and was known to U.K. audiences for her work in London revivals of The Seagull and High Society, Richardson’s first big Hollywood break came from Ken Russell‘s Gothic, a cult favorite which found Richardson playing Mary Shelley opposite Gabriel Byrne‘s Lord Byron. Over the course of her film career, Richardson displayed a gift for seeking out talented directors and co-stars; even though none of them were major hits, subsequent outings paired her with luminaries such as Kenneth Branagh and Colin Firth (A Month in the Country), Robert Duvall and Faye Dunaway (The Handmaid’s Tale), and Jodie Foster and Liam Neeson (Nell).

It was on the set of Nell that Richardson resumed a friendship with Neeson that started a decade earlier, when the duo filmed roles in the CBS miniseries Ellis Island; they were married in 1994 and raised two sons together. Though her career cooled somewhat in the years following their marriage, Richardson continued to surface in films such as the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap, Maid in Manhattan, and last year’s Emma Roberts vehicle Wild Child, as well as starring in numerous stage productions, including the 1998 revival of Cabaret that earned her a Tony.

Richardson is survived by her husband, sons, and an extended family that includes her mother and sister; she leaves behind a noteworthy body of work on stage and screen, as well as her years of charitable work in support of the fight against AIDS. To take a closer look at the Natasha Richardson filmography, please click here.

Source: Associated Press