Diana Rigg, 82, the British actress who enthralled London and New York theater audiences with her performances in classic roles for more than a half-century but remained best known as the quintessential new woman of the 1960s — a sexy, confident, witty and karate-adept Emma Peel — on the television series “The Avengers,” died Thursday at her home in London. The cause was cancer.
Rigg had a late-career success in a recurring role, from 2013 to 2016, as the outspoken and demanding Lady Olenna Tyrell on HBO’s acclaimed series “Game of Thrones.” “I wonder if you’re the worst person I ever met,” Lady Olenna once said to her nemesis Cersei Lannister. “At a certain age, it’s hard to recall.”
A 26-year-old veteran of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Rigg navigated through TV and film medium with ease and collected honors wherever she went — Tonys, Emmys, BAFTAs. She was made a commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1988 and a dame commander in 1994.
Ronald Harwood, 85, a British author, playwright and screenwriter who earned three Oscar nominations and won for best adapted screenplay in 2003 for “The Pianist,” died Tuesday at his home in Sussex, England.
Harwood was a prolific author who could seemingly do it all. He was one of Britain’s leading playwrights in the latter half of the 20th century. His plays included “The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold,” adapted from a novel by Evelyn Waugh; “After the Lions,” about French stage actress Sarah Bernhardt; and, perhaps most notably, “The Dresser,” which opened on Broadway in 1981 and received a Tony nomination for best play the next year. He published numerous novels and a history of the theater, “All the World’s a Stage” (1984). He became an in-demand screenwriter as well, once he mastered the craft.
Forrest Fenn, 90, an art and antiquities dealer and author who gained fame after hiding a treasure chest filled with gold, jewels and other valuables that drove hundreds of thousands of people to search remote corners of the U.S. West for the riches — sometimes with tragic consequences — died Monday of natural causes at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
It was only in recent months that Fenn announced his treasure had supposedly been found in Wyoming by someone he didn’t name. Fenn said he hid the loot 10 years ago in the Rocky Mountains and dropped clues to its whereabouts in a poem published in his 2010 autobiography.
Jiri Menzel, 82, a Czech director who made some 20 movies, was one of the leading filmmakers of the new wave of Czechoslovak cinema that appeared in the 1960s, and whose 1966 movie “Closely Watched Trains” won the Academy Award for best foreign language film, died Sept. 5.
His movies represented a radical departure from socialist realism, a typical communist-era genre focusing on realistically depicting the struggles of the working class. Unlike colleagues such as Milos Forman, Jan Nemec and Ivan Passer, Menzel didn’t emigrate after the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia.
David Graeber, 59, radical anthropologist, provocative critic of economic and social inequality and self-proclaimed anarchist who was a coiner of “We Are the 99%,” the slogan of the Occupy Wall Street movement, died Sept. 2 at a hospital in Venice.
A public intellectual, professor, political activist and author, Graeber captivated a cult following that grew globally over the past decade with each book he published. In “Debt: The First 5,000 Years” (2011), he explored the changing definitions of borrowing and who owed what to whom. He advocated a “jubilee” of loan forgiveness. Writing in The New York Times Book Review, Thomas Meaney called the book “more than a screed” and praised its “brash, engaging style.” In “The Utopia of Rules” (2015), Graeber ridiculed the bureaucracy that is typically associated with government, but that also permeates the corporate world and everyday business transactions.
Gary Peacock, 85, upright bassist whose fastidious but open-minded style carried him through a diverse career in jazz, culminating in a three-decade run with the pianist Keith Jarrett’s Standards Trio, died Sept. 4 at home in Olivebridge, New York. Peacock earned a permanent place in the pantheon of free-jazz pioneers in the 1960s, thanks to his partnerships with pianist Paul Bley and saxophonist Albert Ayler. Peacock spent a short but equally formative stint in the mid-1960s with Bill Evans’ trio.
In his 30s, Peacock — an Idaho native who had attended high school in Yakima — enrolled as a biology student at the University of Washington, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1976.
Irving Kanarek, 100, a Los Angeles lawyer who defended Charles Manson in the cult killings of actress Sharon Tate and six other people, and Jimmy Smith, whose murder of a police officer was chillingly retold in Joseph Wambaugh’s 1973 bestseller “The Onion Field,” died Sept. 2 in Garden Grove, California. Those killings were among the most notorious crimes of the 1960s.
For Kanarek, the trials were high points in a three-decade practice given to a more routine caseload of personal injury and damage claims. The law was not even his first calling. He had been an aerospace engineer for North American Aviation, but lost his Air Force security clearance and his job after being falsely accused of Communist associations in the 1950s. He cleared his name, but the experience soured him on science.
Gerald Shur, 86, who realized that witnesses would be more likely to testify against organized crime figures if they weren’t afraid of being assassinated, and who used that insight to create the federal witness protection program in the 1960s, died Aug. 25 at his home in Warminster, Pennsylvania, from complications of lung.
During his 34-year tenure at the Justice Department, 6,416 witnesses and thousands of their dependents — “including wives, children and mistresses” — were given new identities and relocated, Pete Earley, who with Shur wrote the 2002 book “WITSEC: Inside the Federal Witness Protection Program,” said on his blog in a tribute to Shur.
Rahwa Habte, 42, beloved advocate for immigrants, artists and activists, died Aug. 27. Hidmo, the Eritrean restaurant she ran at the Central District, was a de facto community center with Habte as its powerfully bright center of gravity with an almost alchemical ability to make things grow. Between 2006 and 2010, Hidmo became a home-away-from-home for artists, musicians, youth groups, nonprofits, activists and neighbors.
Habte was a community organizer, activist, chef and entrepreneur who moved in many circles: at the nonprofit OneAmerica, she worked on immigrant advocacy with now-Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle. At the city of Seattle, she helped establish the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs and initiated a program to involve the community in building the annual city budget.
Joan Feynman, 93, who grew up in the shadow of her older brother, the brilliant scientist and Nobel laureate Richard Feynman, but who went on — despite her mother’s discouragement — to become a famous astrophysicist, predicting sunspot cycles and figuring out how many high-energy particles were likely to hit a spacecraft over its lifetime, died of heart failure July 22 at home in Oxnard, California.
Her crowning achievement was understanding the origin of auroras, those dazzling, psychedelic displays of colors — known as the aurora borealis in the Northern Hemisphere and the aurora australis in the Southern — that inflame the night skies.