You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Natasha Richardson dies in N.Y.

Actress sustained brain damage in ski accident

After sustaining brain damage in a freak ski accident Monday, actress Natasha Richardson died Wednesday at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. She was 45.

A member of the Redgrave acting dynasty — and a Tony winner for “Cabaret” in 1999 — Richardson was skiing at Mont-Tremblant near Montreal when she suffered a seemingly minor fall during a ski lesson.

The actress felt fine, but later complained of a headache and was hospitalized, then flown on Tuesday to the U.S. with swelling of the brain. Reports indicate she was taken off life support Wednesday.

She was married to Liam Neeson, with whom she had two sons, and was the daughter of Vanessa Redgrave.

She was born in London in 1963 and made her film debut at age 4 in “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” directed by her father, Tony Richardson.

In “Vanessa Redgrave: An Autobiography,” the actress describes her daughter as Ophelia in a Young Vic production of “Hamlet.” Richardson did not play the “mad scene” as insane, but rather grief-stricken at the horrors she’d seen adults commit. It quieted the rowdy audience of young students and her grandfather, Sir Michael Redgrave summed up, “She’s a true actress” — high praise from someone who was not easily impressed.

The entire family was theatrical: Her grandmother was actress Rachel Kempson and she was the niece of actors Lynn Redgrave and Corin Redgrave. Her first marriage was to British theatrical producer Robert Fox.

Richardson trained at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama and gained experience doing repertory theater in Leeds and Shakespeare at London’s Old Vic. She made her West End debut as Nina in Charles Sturridge’s 1986 production of Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” opposite her mother and Jonathan Pryce. Also in London, she starred as Tracy Lord in a stage musical adapted from the film “High Society,” directed by Eyre.

Her biggest triumphs continued to be on the stage, particularly in New York, though she had a successful career on TV and in films. One of her most prominent earlier roles was starring as “Patty Hearst” in the 1988 Paul Schrader biopic.

Other notable film roles included Ken Russell’s “Gothic,” “A Month in the Country,” “The Handmaid’s Tale” (1990), “Nell,” “The Comfort of Strangers,” “Widows’ Peak,” “The Parent Trap” (1998), “Maid in Manhattan,” “The White Countess” (2005) and last year’s “Evening.”

She also worked occasionally in television, notably opposite Maggie Smith in a 1993 remake of Tennessee Williams’ “Suddenly, Last Summer,” directed by Richard Eyre.

But despite her extensive screen work, it was stage that was the most successful venue for the statuesque beauty with the sonorous voice (“Natasha’s voice compels you to listen, which is a great gift,” her mother wrote in her autobio).

Richardson made her New York debut in 1992 in Roundabout Theater Company’s Broadway transfer of Eugene O’Neill’s “Anna Christie,” originally staged in London by David Leveaux. She earned her first Tony nomination for the title role, playing opposite future husband Neeson and Rip Torn.

She won the Tony four years later as Sally Bowles in Sam Mendes’ revival of “Cabaret,” also for Roundabout.

In 1999 she starred with Anna Friel, Rupert Graves and Ciaran Hinds in Patrick Marber’s Rialto production of his play “Closer.” And in 2005 she continued her association with Roundabout in director Edward Hall’s revival of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” playing Blanche DuBois opposite John C. Reilly’s Stanley Kowalski.

“Not only was Natasha Richardson one of the greatest actresses of her generation,” Roundabout a.d. Todd Haimes said in a statement, “but she was also a treasured member of the Roundabout family and a wonderful friend. Our hearts go out to Natasha’s family at this devastating time.”

In January of this year, Richardson appeared as fading actress Desiree Armfeldt in a one-night concert benefit for Roundabout at Studio 54 of “A Little Night Music,” with her mother as Madame Armfeldt. Reports following the performance indicated that both were hoping to reprise those roles in a full Broadway revival of the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler musical being planned for next season.

Among her survivors are her husband; her mother; her sister, actress Joely Richardson; and two sons.

(Timothy M. Gray and Pat Saperstein contributed to this report.)

Popular on Variety

More Scene

  • Anne Hathaway Modern Love

    Anne Hathaway Talks Mental Health Awareness, Playing a Bipolar Woman on Amazon's 'Modern Love'

    In Amazon Prime’s upcoming “Modern Love,” Anne Hathaway sheds light on an important facet of living with mental health issues, playing a bipolar woman who struggles with dating. “We’re all becoming more sensitive, wiser and more cognizant of gentility, and especially emotional gentility. I think those conversations are starting to happen. And I think the desire [...]

  • Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron.

    Charlize Theron Could Win Second Oscar for Playing Megyn Kelly in 'Bombshell'

    Charlize Theron walked on stage before a screening of “Bombshell” at West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center on Sunday night and announced to the crowd, “I’m about to s— myself.” The Oscar winner had good reason to be nervous. The screening of the Jay Roach-directed drama about the fall of Fox News boss Roger Ailes was [...]

  • Charlize Theron speaks at the GEANCO

    Charlize Theron Talks 'White Privilege,' Growing Up During Apartheid in South Africa

    Charlize Theron, during an onstage discussion with her “Gringo” costar David Oyelowo about philanthropy at Thursday’s annual fundraiser for Nigerian children’s educational and health program GEANCO, said she was a beneficiary of “white privilege” while growing up in Apartheid-torn South Africa. “I obviously am a white person who benefited from my white privilege,” Theron said [...]

  • Lyliana Wray, Sam Ashe Arnold, Miya

    ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark’ Revival Team on Living Up to the Series’ Legacy

    The 2019 revival of “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” centers around the Carnival of Doom, a place that star Jeremy Ray Taylor (“It Chapter Two”) describes as “beautiful on the outside, but…in the middle of it, there are definitely dark secrets. Variety caught up with the young star during a carnival-themed celebration at Row DTLA [...]

  • Charlize Theron'The Addams Family' film premiere,

    Charlize Theron Speaks Immigration, Diversity in ‘The Addams Family’

    They’re creepy, they’re kooky, and they’re an allegory for immigration in America.  Charlize Theron discussed the changing face of the nuclear family and her animated film, “The Addams Family,” with Variety at the movie’s recent premiere at the Century City Mall in Los Angeles. “When you think of [the Addams] being around since the sixties, [...]

  • Emma Stone attends the Los Angeles

    Emma Stone Talks 'Cruella' Transformation, New 'Zombieland' Sequel

    Despite inevitable comparisons to Glenn Close’s iconic turn as Cruella de Vil in 1996’s “101 Dalmatians,” Emma Stone teased that her take on the infamous villain in the upcoming “Cruella” movie will be very distinctive. “It comes long before her story,” Stone told Variety at the premiere of “Zombieland: Double Tap” at the Regency Village [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content