Thursday, March 19, 2009

Natasha Richardson Dies After Skiing Accident

Following a tragic skiing accident and several days in the hospital with family at her bedside, Natasha Richardson has died. The Tony-winning actress and veteran of more than 30 films and television movies was 45 years old.

"Liam Neeson, his sons, and the entire family are shocked and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Natasha," read a statement released by her family, including husband Neeson, on Wednesday (March 18). "They are profoundly grateful for the support, love and prayers of everyone and ask for privacy during this very difficult time."

Richardson was critically injured in a skiing accident on Monday, reportedly falling during a beginners' lesson at the Station Mont Tremblant resort in Montreal. Although the actress did not show any visible signs of injury, she complained later of not feeling well after returning to her hotel and was later sedated at a local hospital. By Tuesday, she had been transported to a New York hospital, with her family holding a "vigil" by her bedside as the brain injury became more severe.

Born in London in 1963, the actress was born with a performance pedigree, as the daughter of Oscar winners Vanessa Redgrave and "Tom Jones" director Tony Richardson. After appearing in some small roles, her career began to take off in the late '80s and early '90s with Ken Russell's "Gothic" and a prominent role in the Robert Duvall/ Faye Dunaway film "The Handmaid's Tale." Other notable film work included "Nell," "The Parent Trap," "Blow Dry" and the Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy "Maid in Manhattan."

Richardson might have made her greatest triumph, however, playing Sally Bowles on Broadway in the musical "Cabaret." Starring opposite Alan Cumming and Ron Rifkin and overseen by "American Beauty" director Sam Mendes and "Chicago" filmmaker Rob Marshall, the production won Richardson a Tony for Best Actress.

Natasha Richardson was married to "The Hours" producer Robert Fox from 1990 to 1992. In 1994, she wed Irish actor Neeson, who was nominated for an Oscar that same year for "Schindler's List." The couple had two sons, Micheal and Daniel, who were reportedly with Richardson at the time of the skiing accident.

Since the 1991 AIDS-related death of her father, Richardson had helped to raise millions of dollars to combat the disease. The actress had recently appeared as a judge on the Bravo series "Top Chef" and was next set to co-star with her mother in an upcoming Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's "A Little Night Music."

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