Natasha Richardson Biography

Actress, Theater Actress, Television Actress (1963–2009)
British actress of stage and screen Natasha Richardson won a Tony Award for her work in the Broadway show Cabaret before dying in a tragic skiing accident.


Actress Natasha Richardson was born on May 11, 1963, in London, England, to father Tony Richardson, a director and producer, and mother Vanessa Redgrave, a British film star. Richardson went on to win a Tony award for her role in Cabaret and died in 2009 following a skiing accident in Quebec, Canada.

Early Life

Natasha Jane Richardson was born on May 11, 1963, in London, England, to father Tony Richardson, a director and producer, and mother Vanessa Redgrave, a British film star. She was named after the spirited Natasha in Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace.

Richardson was born into the fourth generation of the theatrical Redgrave family. Her great-grandparents, Roy Redgrave and Daisy Scudamore; grandparents, Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson; aunts, Corin and Lynn; and mother, Vanessa, were all famous film presences. Her acting debut came at the age of 4, when she appeared as an extra in her father's film, The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968).

Richardson's parents divorced in 1967. Her mother cited her father's adulterous relationship with Jeanne Moreau as the reason for their separation. Richardson and her younger sister, Joely, continued to live with their mother. The family struggled emotionally after the split, as well as financially—Richardson later admitted that her mother gave most of her money away to radical political groups during this time.

Richardson attended the private St. Paul's Girls' School for several years. She then trained as an actress at London's Central School of Speech and Drama, but kept her Redgrave pedigree a secret while she studied there.

Acting Debut

After college, Natasha Richardson worked as a stage actress, appearing in several small television and film roles. In 1984, she met and married English theater and film producer Robert Fox. The following year, she made her West End debut as Nina in a production of The Seagull, co-starred with her mother in the play. Her performance earned her the London Drama Critics' Most Promising Newcomer Award.

Richardson continued to star in stage productions, including A Midsummer Night's Dream (1985), High Society (1987) and Fat Man and Little Boy (1989). She also appeared on the big screen, in films such as A Month in the Country (1987), starring Colin Firth and Kenneth Branagh. Additionally, she landed a starring role in the biopic Patty Hearst (1988), for which she received critical acclaim.

Personal Tragedy

In 1991, Richardson's father fell ill due to complications from the AIDS virus. He passed away on November 14, 1991, in Los Angeles, California. After her father's death, Natasha became heavily involved in AIDS charity organizations such as the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR).

Two years later, while playing the lead in Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie, Richardson met actor Liam Neeson. When she and Fox divorced in 1993, Richardson and Neeson married. The couple had two sons together, Michael and Daniel.

In 1998, Richardson won a Tony Award for her role as Sally Bowles in the Broadway musical Cabaret. The following year, she starred in the play Closer, for which she received positive reviews.

Later film credits include The Parent Trap (1998), Maid in Manhattan (2002), Evening (2007) and Wild Child (2008). Richardson also appeared on television as a guest judge for the reality game show Top Chef, and was rumored to be working on a Broadway production of Sondheim's A Little Night Music around this same time.

Untimely Death

While skiing during a vacation in Quebec, Canada, Richardson fell multiple times on a beginner's slope, suffering seemingly minor injuries. The actress decided against seeing a doctor, but her head injuries proved to be more severe than she had presumed, turning fatal due to their lack of treatment. Medical examiners concluded that Richardson died from blunt trauma to her head—the result of her recent falls while skiing—on March 18, 2009, in New York City.

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