Vale Natasha Richardson. Condolences to her grieving family.
There’s a lot of attention given to this particular death, partly because of the fame of her family, and partly because her death seems bizarre to those who don’t know much about head injuries. There’s plenty to read about both those aspects in the various MSM reports.
This tribute from Michael Billington in the Guardian focusses just on her stage work, and his own sense of loss due to the roles he will now never see her play. The stage was the performance arena in which she had steadily carved a niche all her own, no mean achievement for a member of an acting dynasty whose cumulative reputation overshadowed her personal talent in the public imagination, an effect magnified by her marriage to a famous film star.
This is of course something that Vanessa Redgrave (and her siblings Lynn and Corin) also had to struggle with in the early stages of their careers, due to the fame of parents Michael Redgrave and Rachael Kempson, and of course Natasha’s sister Joely (and their cousin Jemma) has had to deal with the same combination of the lift in opportunities being a Redgrave has provided along with the increased expectations bundled with those opportunities. Combine that with a dynasty also known for radical left political activism and flouting social conventions. It’s not an easy road to tread, despite the rewards of fame.
This is a rather garbled post for Friday Hoyden, where we do tend to mostly point approvingly at women kicking arse. Natasha did kick acting arse in so many ways (as do the other Redgrave women), but there was a lot more going on in her family experience than just its interaction with her career, as there tends to be in the experiences of most people. It’s just that we know more about this family (though mass media consumers tend to think that the salacious snapshots they “know” tell them more about celebrities than those snippets really do). I’m just so sad for all those who loved her, and I wanted to mark the moment.
These women were also on my Hoyden list anyway, along with Vanessa’s sister Lynn and Corin’s daughter Jemma, for their various memorable performances. The aspect they share as performers is conveying intelligence, sensitivity, dignity, a certain steely strength beneath a vulnerable shell, and overall a sense of mischief around the eyes. I find this combination highly appealing as a character’s story is told.
A prime example of this combination is in Natasha’s portrayal of Offred in the film adaptation of Margaret Attwood’s iconic novel The Handmaid’s Tale.
This also hits me hard because she was only a few months older than I am. I also ski (though not for a couple of years). I can’t help but wonder whether she’d still be here if she’d worn a helmet.