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Her first marriage to filmmaker Robert Fox ended in divorce in 1992. In 1994 she married Northern Irish actor Liam Neeson, whom she had met when the two appeared in Anna Christie. The couple had two sons, Micheál and Daniel. Richardson's father died of AIDS-related causes in 1991. She helped raise millions of dollars in the fight against AIDS through the charity amfAR, the American Foundation for AIDS Research. Richardson died in 2009 following a head injury sustained when she fell during a skiing lesson in Quebec.
Richardson was born and raised in London, a member of the Redgrave family, known as a theatrical and film acting dynasty. She was the daughter of director and producer Tony Richardson and actress Vanessa Redgrave, granddaughter of actors Sir Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson, sister of Joely Richardson, half sister of Carlo Gabriel Nero, niece of actress Lynn Redgrave and actor Corin Redgrave,and cousin of Jemma Redgrave.
Richardson's parents divorced in 1967. The following year, she made her film debut at the age of four in an uncredited role in The Charge of the Light Brigade, directed by her father.
Richardson was educated in London at two leading independent schools, the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle in South Kensington, London and St. Paul's Girls' School in Hammersmith, London, before training at the Central School of Speech and Drama.
Richardson began her career in regional theatre at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds. Her first professional work in London's West End was in a revival of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull in 1985. Soon after, she starred in a London stage production of High Society, adapted from the acclaimed Cole Porter film. In 1998, she played the role of Sally Bowles in Sam Mendes' acclaimed revival of Cabaret on Broadway, for which she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. The following year she returned to Broadway in Closer, for which she was nominated for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play, and in 2005 she appeared again with the Roundabout, this time as Blanche DuBois in their revival of Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire, opposite John C. Reilly as Stanley Kowalski.
Richardson portrayed Mary Shelley in the 1986 film Gothic, a fictionalized account of the author's creation of Frankenstein. The following year she starred opposite Kenneth Branagh and Colin Firth in A Month in the Country, directed by Pat O'Connor. Director Paul Schrader signed her for the title role in Patty Hearst, his 1988 docudrama about the heiress and her alleged kidnapping. Her performances opposite Robert Duvall and Faye Dunaway in The Handmaid's Tale and Christopher Walken, Rupert Everett, and Helen Mirren in The Comfort of Strangers (directed by Schrader) won her the 1990 Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actress. She was named Best Actress at the 1994 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival for Widows' Peak, and that same year appeared in Nell opposite Jodie Foster and future husband Liam Neeson. Additional film credits include The Parent Trap (1998), Blow Dry (2001), Chelsea Walls (2001), Waking Up in Reno (2002), Maid in Manhattan (2002), Asylum (2005), which won her a second Evening Standard Award for Best Actress, The White Countess (2005), and Evening (2007). Her last screen appearance was as headmistress of a girls' school in the 2008 comedy Wild Child. During the last week of January 2009, she recorded her offscreen role of the wife of climber George Mallory, who disappeared while climbing Mount Everest during a 1924 expedition, in the unreleased documentary film The Wildest Dream, for which Liam Neeson provides narration. Director Anthony Geffen described listening to the film since her death as "harrowing."
Richardson made her American television debut in a small role in the 1984 CBS miniseries Ellis Island. That same year she made her UK television debut in an episode of the BBC series Oxbridge Blues. The following year she appeared as Violet Hunter alongside Jeremy Brett and David Burke in The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes, in the episode entitled "The Copper Beeches". She starred with Judi Dench, Michael Gambon, and Kenneth Branagh in a 1987 BBC adaptation of the Henrik Ibsen play Ghosts; with Maggie Smith and Rob Lowe in a 1993 BBC adaptation of Suddenly, Last Summer by Tennessee Williams; portrayed Zelda Fitzgerald in the 1993 television movie Zelda; and starred in Haven (2001) on CBS and The Mastersons of Manhattan (2007) on NBC.
Richardson in 1999
Richardson's first marriage to filmmaker Robert Fox lasted from 1990 to 1992. She married Irish actor Liam Neeson in the summer of 1994 at the home they shared near Millbrook, New York; she had taken American citizenship. Richardson and Neeson have two sons: Micheál (born 1995) and Daniel (born 1996). Richardson helped raise millions of dollars in the fight against AIDS; her father, director Tony Richardson, died of AIDS-related causes in 1991.
Richardson was actively involved in amfAR, becoming a board of trustees member in 2006, and participated in many other AIDS charities including Bailey House, God's Love We Deliver, Mothers' Voices, AIDS Crisis Trust and National AIDS Trust, for which she was an ambassador. Richardson received amfAR's Award of Courage in November 2000.
A long-time smoker although she had reportedly quit smoking,Richardson was an outspoken opponent of the ban on smoking in New York City restaurants.
Injury and death
Wikinews has related news: British actress Natasha Richardson dies at age 45
On 16 March 2009, Richardson sustained a head injury when she fell while taking a skiing lesson at the Mont Tremblant Resort in Quebec, about 130 kilometres (81 mi) from Montreal. The injury was followed by a lucid interval, when Richardson seemed to be fine and was able to talk and act normally. Paramedics and an ambulance which initially responded to the accident were told they were not needed and left. Refusing medical attention, she returned to her hotel room and about three hours later was taken to a local hospital in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts after complaining of a headache. She was transferred from there by ambulance to Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur, Montreal, in critical condition and was admitted about seven hours after the fall. The following day she was flown to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, where she died on 18 March.An autopsy conducted by the New York City Medical Examiners Office on 19 March revealed the cause of death was an "epidural hematoma due to blunt impact to the head", and her death was ruled an accident.
On 19 March, theatre lights were dimmed on Broadway and in London's West End as a mark of respect to Richardson. The following day, a private wake was held at the American Irish Historical Society in Manhattan. On 22 March, a private funeral was held at St. Peter's Episcopal Church near Millbrook, New York, close to the family's upstate home, and Richardson was buried near her grandmother Rachel in the church cemetery.
Year Film Role Notes
1968 The Charge of the Light Brigade Flower girl at wedding Uncredited appearance
1986 Gothic Mary Shelley
1987 A Month in the Country Alice Keach
1988 Patty Hearst Patty Hearst
1989 Fat Man and Little Boy Jean Tatlock
1990 The Handmaid's Tale Kate/Offred Evening Standard British Film Awards — Best Actress
The Comfort of Strangers Mary
1991 The Favour, the Watch and the Very Big Fish Sybil
1992 Past Midnight Laura Mathews
1994 Nell Dr. Paula Olsen
Widows' Peak Mrs Edwina Broome Karlovy Vary International Film Festival — Best Actress
1998 The Parent Trap Elizabeth James
2001 Blow Dry Shelley Allen
Chelsea Walls Mary
2002 Waking Up In Reno Darlene Dodd
Maid in Manhattan Caroline Lane
2005 The White Countess Countess Sofia Belinskya
Asylum Stella Raphael Executive producer
Evening Standard British Film Awards — Best Actress
Nominated — British Independent Film Awards — Best Actress
2007 Evening Constance Lord
2008 Wild Child Mrs. Kingsley Final film appearance
TBA The Wildest Dream Ruth Mallory (wife of George Mallory) Voice only, final performance, Liam Neeson narrated.
Year Title Role Notes
1984 Oxbridge Blues Gabriella
1985 The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Violet Hunter Episode — "The Copper Beeches"
1987 Ghosts Regina
1993 Zelda Zelda Fitzgerald
Hostages Jill Morrell
Suddenly Last Summer Catharine Holly
1996 Tales from the Crypt Fiona Havisham
2001 Haven Ruth Gruber
2007 Mastersons of Manhattan Victoria Masterson
2008 Top Chef Guest Judge
Year Production Role Notes
1983 On the Razzle
1985 The Seagull Nina Plays and Players - Most Promising Newcomer Award
A Midsummer Night's Dream Helena
1987 High Society Tracy
1993 Anna Christie Anna London Drama Critics' Best Actress Award (London production)
Outer Critics Circle Award — Outstanding Debut of an Actress
Theatre World Award — Outstanding Debut
Nominated — Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
1998 Cabaret Sally Bowles Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Outer Critics Circle Award
Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical
1999 Closer Anna
2003 The Lady from the Sea
2005 A Streetcar Named Desire Blanche DuBois