19 Mar 2009

Actress Natasha Richardson dies after ski fall

5:10 pm on 19 March 2009

Award-winning actress Natasha Richardson, a member of Britain's Redgrave acting dynasty, died on Wednesday after a suffering a severe brain injury in a skiing accident in Canada.

Richardson, 45, had been hospitalised in New York since Tuesday, surrounded by her husband, actor Liam Neeson, 56, her two sons Michael, 13, and Daniel Jack, 12, and members of her immediate family including her mother, actress Vanessa Redgrave.

"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," family spokesman Alan Nierob said in a statement.

Richardson followed her Oscar-winning mother and her father, the late film director Tony Richardson, into a career on stage and screen in England and the United States. She won Broadway's Tony Award in the 1998 musical revival, Cabaret.

She was injured on Monday when she fell on a beginners slope during a private ski lesson at the Mont Tremblant resort, about 120km north of Montreal.

A spokeswoman for the resort said Richardson appeared to be in good condition after the fall, but her instructor called a ski patrol to take her to the bottom of the hill.

About an hour later, she complained of severe headaches and was admitted to a local medical facility before eventually being transferred to a Montreal hospital where she was diagnosed with severe brain trauma.

On Tuesday, with Neeson by her side, she was flown to New York and admitted to the Lenox Hill Hospital where her family rushed to her bedside in her final hours.

Acting dynasty

Richardson was born in London in May 1963 and trained at the city's prestigious Central School of Speech and Drama.

She was perhaps best known worldwide for film roles that included playing a young Lindsay Lohan's mother in the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap and for her role in the Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy Maid in Manhattan.

But first and foremost she was a theatre actress, equally at home on the stages of London's West End and New York's Broadway. She won a most promising newcomer award in 1986 for her London performance in The Seagull, opposite her mother, and later won a Tony as songstress Sally Bowles in Cabaret.

Richardson also enjoyed a prolific television career with starring roles in the BBC production of Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts and the 2001 CBS mini-series Haven.

Her latest movie role was as a strict English boarding school headmistress in the 2008 teen comedy Wild Child.

Richardson and Neeson, 56, worked together on 1994 Jodie Foster drama Nell. The couple married in July 1994 and had Michael and Daniel Jack. Her first marriage, to filmmaker Robert Fox, lasted two years.

Richardson's sister is the Nip/Tuck star, Joely Richardson. She is the granddaughter of late British actor Sir Michael Redgrave and niece of actors Lynn and Corin Redgrave.