Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Natasha Richardson, 1963–2009

I’ve long been an admirer of actress and social activist Vanessa Redgrave (to the extent of writing much of her biography on Wikipedia).

I was saddened to hear the news yesterday that her daughter, Tony award-winning actress
Natasha Richardson, was in a “critical condition” after a fall on a beginner’s slope at the Mont Tremblant ski resort in Canada.

The last film I saw starring Natasha Richardson was 2007’s Evening, which also featured her mother.The two also appear together (along with Vanessa’s sister and Natasha’s aunt, Lynn Redgrave) in the 2005 film, The White Countess.

Natasha was actually the lead actress in this beautiful yet often underrated film, one that was the last production of the renowned Merchant-Ivory team. (Producer Ismail Merchant died shortly after principal photography was completed.)

According to news reports, Richardson laughed and joked as she picked herself up from what has been described as an “undramatic fall,” yet within hours she was complaining of a headache and taken to the nearby Centre Hospitalier Laurentien before being transferred to the larger Hopital du Sacre-Coeur in Montreal.

Later she was flown to the U.S. where her family, including husband Liam Neelson; the couple’s two sons, Micheál and Daniel; her mother (right); and her sister, Joely Richardson, gathered at her bedside in New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital. Some media outlets yesterday were reporting that she was brain dead, yet I was hoping and praying that this was not the case and that she would make a full recovery.

Sadly, it’s just been reported that Natasha Richardson has died.

At approximately 8pm, New York time, her husband Liam Neeson’s publicist issued the following statement to the press:

Liam Neeson, his sons, and the entire family are shocked and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Natasha. They are profoundly grateful for the support, love and prayers of everyone, and ask for privacy during this very difficult time.

My thoughts and prayers are with Natasha’s family, and with all who have experienced the sudden and unexpected death of a loved one.

“[Natasha’s death is] a sudden and horrifying loss for her family and friends, for the film and theater communities, for her many fans and for both her native and adoptive countries. Descended from at least three generations of actors, Richardson was a proper Londoner who came to love the noise of New York, an elegant blonde with large, lively eyes, a bright smile and a hearty laugh.”
– Hillel Italie
Associated Press News

I appreciate Michael of Norfolk’s heartfelt reflection on Natasha’s death:

Natasha’s untimely death should remind all of us of the need to live more in the moment and grasp some happiness each day – and to love others each day - since we truly do not know when some freak accident could change everything in literally hours. . . My thoughts go out to her children and family.

I intend lighting a candle tonight for Natasha and her family – and watching the DVD of The White Countess.

Recommended Off-sites Links:
Natasha Richardson: Charming, Disarming, and Real – Mark Peyser (Newsweek, March 18, 2009).
Natasha Richardson, Actress, Dies at 45 – Bruse Weber (New York Times, March 18, 2009).
Actress Natasha Richardson Dies After Skiing Accident – John Horn (Los Angeles Times, March 18, 2009).
Richardson was a True Daughter of the Theater – Michael Kuchwara (Associated Press News, March 18, 2009).
Doctor: Natasha Richardson May Have Suffered “Talk and Die” Syndrome – Karlie Pouliot (, March 18, 2009).
Could a Helmet Have Saved Natasha Richardson? – Jeffrey Kluger (Time, March 18, 2009).

Updates: Autopsy: Richardson Died of Impact to the Head Associated Press (March 19, 2009).
Vanessa Redgrave: Reliving Daughter’s Death – Roger Friedman (, March 19, 2009).
Ambulance Called for Natasha Richardson Was Turned Away – James Bone (, March 20, 2009).
Family, Friends Gather for Richardson Wake Associated Press News (March 20, 2009).
Natasha Richardson Buried Near Upstate NY Home – Michael Hill (Associated Press, March 22, 2009).

Above: Vanessa Redgrave (center), her daughter Joely Richardson (right), and her granddaughter Daisy Bevan (left) arrive at the wake for Natasha Richardson at the American Irish Historical Society on 5th Avenue in New York, March 20, 2009. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)

Above: Vanessa Redgrave and her husband Franco Nero arrive at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Lithgow, N.Y., for the funeral of her daughter Natasha Richardson - March 22, 2009. (Associated Press)

Above: Family and friends of Natasha Richardson gather for a photo prior to the funeral of Natasha Richardson. At left is Vanessa Redgrave, Richardson’s mother. At right is Liam Neeson, Richardson’s husband. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

Above: Liam Neeson and his mother-in-law Vanessa Redgrave walk through St. Peter’s Cemetery in Lithgow, N.Y. on Sunday, March 22, 2009 after a funeral for his wife, Natasha Richardson. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

1 comment:

crystal said...

I like Vanessa Redgrave very much. Sad to hear about this.