Richardson Dies Two Days After Fall On Slopes

A spokesman for the family of Natasha Richardson says the actress has died after suffering an apparent head injury from a skiing accident. Her career highlights included the film "Patty Hearst" and a Tony-winning performance in a stage revival of "Cabaret." She was 45.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

A spokesman for the family of Natasha Richardson says the actress has died. The 45-year-old actress suffered a major brain injury in a ski accident at a Canadian resort on Tuesday. Her husband, the actor, Liam Neeson, accompanied her back to New York, where members of her family gathered to visit her at the hospital.

NPR's Lynn Neary has this remembrance.

LYNN NEARY: She was a blueblood in the world of acting, the daughter of one of Britain's greatest actresses, Vanessa Redgrave, and the late director, Tony Richardson - the granddaughter of Sir Michael Redgrave. She lived her life surrounded by actors. At times it was more than a bit daunting. I have a famous mother, she told a British newspaper in 2003, and it took me years to get over that.

Trained in London, Richardson made her stage debut in this country in the 1993 production of Eugene O'Neill's "Anna Christie" at New York's Roundabout Theatre. She received glowing reviews and was nominated for a Tony. Playing opposite her was a strapping Irish actor, Liam Neeson, whom she later married. In 1994, the two appeared together in the film "Nell."

Ms. NATASHA RICHARDSON (Actress): (As Dr. Paula Olsen) If she's ever going to leave that cabin, she's going to need skill she doesn't presently (unintelligible).

Mr. LIAM NEESON (Actor): (As Dr. Jerome Lovell) How do you if she wants to leave the cabin?

Ms. RICHARDSON: You think that's the best life we can give her?

Mr. NEESON: I think her life is ours to give.

Ms. RICHARDSON: People can help each other, Dr. Lovell. We don't have to do everything all alone.

Mr. NEESON: Yeah, okay, I think I'm gettin' the picture.

NEARY: Richardson and Neeson live quietly in New York with their two sons. In an interview with NPR, Richardson joked about the influence she had over her husband's career.

Ms. RICHARDSON: He will ask me to read a script and ask for my opinion and I will give it to him. I don't tell him what he should or shouldn't do. I'll just give him my instinct. And I think he probably will never forgive me for…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. RICHARDSON: …the fact that when we were first together and they asked him to do James Bond, I said, under no circumstances can you be James Bond. I am not marrying James Bond. And he probably will never forgive me for that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

NEARY: Richardson appeared in many films, including "The Handmaid's Tale," "The Parent Trap," "Maid in Manhattan" and "The White Countess," which costarred her mother and her aunt, Lynn Redgrave. But it was in the '90s on the New York stage that she had her greatest success. She appeared in "The Closer" and played Blanche DuBois in "Streetcar Named Desire."

In 1998 she won the Tony award for her portrayal of Sally Bowles in "Cabaret."

(Soundbite of song, "Cabaret")

Ms. RICHARDSON: (Singing) Life is a cabaret, old chum. Only a cabaret, old chum. And I love a cabaret.

NEARY: Richardson would've been 46 on her next birthday in May.

Lynn Neary, NPR News, Washington.

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