Written by Nikki Baughan Sunday, 22 March 2009 17:20
We're waking up to some very sad news this morning. Actress Natasha Richardson has passed away after suffering a head injury during a fall while skiing with her two young sons in Canada on Monday. She was flown to a New York hospital on Tuesday night where she was surrounded by family, including actor husband Liam Neeson, but died in the early hours of this morning (GMT). A member of a celebrated theatrical family - both her mother Vanessa and sister Joley are award-winning actresses, and her father is the late director Tony Richardson - Natasha was known for both her stage and screen work.
She made her feature film debut playing Mary Shelley in Ken Russell's 1986 movie Gothic, and on the strength of this performance was cast by Paul Schrader in the title role of 1988's Paty Hearst. Her film career since then has been varied, including movies The Favour, the Watch and the Very Big Fish (1991), Nell (1994) - on the set of which she met Neeson - and The Parent Trap (1998)
But it was her stage work that garnered Richardson the most acclaim. Trained at London's Central School of Speech and Drama, she starred in both A Midsummer Night's Dream and Hamlet at the Young Vic before winning the 1986 London Drama Critics' Most Promising Newcomer Award for her performance in The Seagull alongside her mother Vanessa.
Natasha also played the title role in Anna Christie, first in London where she won the London Drama Critics' Best Actress Award, then on Broadway where her performance won her many nominations. For her role as Sally Bowles in Sam Mendes' production of Cabaret, Richardson achieved a raft of awards including the Tony, Outer Critics Circle, Drama League and Drama Desk gongs for Best Actress in a Musical.
Also a prolific television actress, with projects including the BBC's Ghosts, HBO's Hostages and the CBS mini-series Haven, Richardson will be missed not just for her talent but also for her charitable works. She was on the board of, and an active spokesperson for, the US charity amfAR, The Foundation for Aids Research. A spokeswoman for the charity said, "This is a catastrophic loss for the family and it is a terrible loss for amfAR and the fight against Aids."