Your cart is empty.
One Tough Dame - The Life and Career of Diana Rigg

One Tough Dame

The Life and Career of Diana Rigg

By Herbie J Pilato
Foreword by Rupert Macnee
Introduction by Ray Austin
Series: Hollywood Legends Series

Hardcover : 9781496837974, 224 pages, 59 b&w illustrations, September 2024
Expected to ship: 2024-09-16

Table of contents

Foreword by Rupert Macnee

Introduction by Ray Austin
Part One: Before
Chapter 1: Rigged
Chapter 2: First Signs of Royalty
Chapter 3: Great Expectations
Part Two: During
Chapter 4: Embracing Emma
Chapter 5: Avenging Angel
Chapter 6: Defending Mrs. Peel
Part Three: After
Chapter 7: From the Bureau to Bond
Chapter 8: Hailing Caesar, The Hospital, and Blood
Chapter 9: When Diana Met Diana
Chapter 10: Her Craft, Unstoned
Chapter 11: A Little Night Music with a Three-Piece Suite, and More
Chapter 12: The Bradley Bunch
Part Four: Forever After
Chapter 13: The Queen of Thrones and Thornes
Chapter 14: Final Bows
Chapter 15: Encore
Appendix: Life and Career Highlights: A Selective Timeline

A detailed biography of the esteemed actress, before, during, and after The Avengers


One Tough Dame: The Life and Career of Diana Rigg offers a sweeping portrait of the revered performer’s life and career. Deemed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1994, Diana Rigg (1938–2020) initially found fame as super sleuth Mrs. Emma Peel in the 1960s BBC/ABC-TV espionage series, The Avengers. A classically trained and multi-award-winning thespian, Rigg is known for her diverse body of work — from her big-screen debut in 1969 as Countess Teresa di Vincenzo, wife of James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, to her Tony Award–winning, leading role in Medea on Broadway, culminating with her Emmy-nominated portrayal as Lady Olenna Tyrell on the heralded small-screen gem, Game of Thrones.

This eclectic volume traces Rigg’s career as a renowned star of television, film, and the stage. The author includes insights from rare, archived interviews, encompassing both video dialogues conducted by the University of Kent and Oxford Union. The meticulously curated archival material is further complemented by equally rare photos, and retrospections drawn from diverse media sources and hitherto unpublished accounts from the people who knew Rigg best, affording readers an unprecedented, all-encompassing glimpse into her private world.

With exclusive commentary from Rupert Macnee (son of Riggs’s Avengers costar and dear friend Patrick Macnee); the show’s stunt coordinator/director Ray Austin; actors Samuel West, Bernie Kopell, Barbara Barrie, Juliet Mills, John Schuck, and Damon Evans; director Bruce Beresford; and documentarian David Naylor, among others, One Tough Dame delivers an in-depth perspective of a beloved, brave, brilliant, and trailblazing actor.


"A highly readable, well-documented biography of a dedicated artist in full possession of her art. Those who think of Rigg only as Emma Peel in a jumpsuit have a treat in store when they read the full, exhilarating story."

- Bernard F. Dick, author of The Golden Age Musicals of Darryl F. Zanuck: The Gentleman Preferred Blondes

"We always knew there was more to Diana Rigg than the lady spy our generation grew up admiring (and lusting after). Herbie J Pilato peels away her Avengers leather suit to reveal an exquisitely well-written and researched book. Meticulous without being pedantic, this is not only a superb biography, it’s also a chronicle of the last innocent era in popular culture."

- Nat Segaloff, author of Arthur Penn: American Director and A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison

"Many years ago, I was fortunate enough to have seen Diana Rigg onstage in London at the Old Vic, where she was starring in a production of Phaedra. At the time, I was so impressed by her virtuosity and the sheer magnificence of her performance that I felt privileged to be breathing in the same air as her. Herbie J Pilato’s wonderful biography of Dame Diana made me feel much the same way. Pilato brings this brilliant actress back to glorious life, with all her virtues and foibles intact, from her wicked sense of humor to her unfortunate pack-a-day smoking habit. Along the way, we experience with her the ups and downs of her long and (mostly) illustrious career, and those who think of Dame Diana Rigg only as Mrs. Peel or Mrs. James Bond are in for quite a surprise. By the time you reach the end of this book, you’ll feel like her best friend."

- Bruce G. Hallenbeck, author of “Blazing Saddles” Meets “Young Frankenstein”: The 50th Anniversary of the Year of Mel Brooks

"Herbie J Pilato delivers the book the glorious Dame Diana deserves. One Tough Dame is incredibly well-researched, and he explores Diana Riggs’s life and career with a welcome air of upbeat affection that still allows for an honest perspective on her work and its cultural impact. The trove of lovingly restored photographs is the icing on the cake. Bravo!"

- Samuel Garza Bernstein, Stonewall Book Award–winning author of Starring Joan Crawford, Mr. Confidential, and Uncommon Heroes

"An actress all too often dismissed as a sixties television sex symbol, Diana Rigg was so much more. A pioneer speaking out for women working in the industry, she was independent and hard-working all her life. In One Tough Dame, author Herbie J Pilato explores Rigg’s life and diverse career, from performing on stage in Shakespeare’s plays to television in Game of Thrones, and even some surprises along the way."

- Gillian Kelly, author of Robert Taylor: Male Beauty, Masculinity, and Stardom in Hollywood