Emma Peel was only one of the sexy superspies of The Avengers—and they've all gone through dramatic stages

By Michael Sauter
August 07, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Spoofing the Cold War with style and wit, The Avengers was a fab cult fave when the half-hour comedy-drama came to America in 1966 as a replacement series. But where have the show’s stars gone? Patrick Macnee cameos in the upcoming Avengers movie. As for his leading ladies, you’ll have to look beyond the big screen.

Honor Blackman (1962-64) After two seasons as Cathy Gale, Blackman defected to play Pussy Galore in Goldfinger (“I’ve never quite forgiven her for abandoning me,” Macnee says fondly). After 007, she got out of the spy biz. Her recent credits range from the British sitcom The Upper Hand to her current one-woman show, Dishonorable Ladies.

Diana Rigg (1966-68) Recruited from the Royal Shakespeare Company, Rigg became an instant star when Emma Peel hit America. Like Blackman, she moved on to Bond (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969), then steered back to the stage. Though ’90s viewers know her from PBS’ Mystery! series, Dame Diana (knighted in 1994) has some impressive theater credits: Medea (a 1994 Tony), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1997).

Linda Thorson (1968-69) Fresh from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Thorson played ingenue agent Tara King. But after the show’s cancellation in ’69, she returned to the theater. Among her 60 plays are the Broadway productions of Steaming and Noises Off. She’s Diane Keaton’s bitchy sibling in the upcoming film The Other Sister and costars as “the wicked cousin” in the Canadian TV series Emily of New Moon.

Joanna Lumley (1978-79) Fifteen years after playing Purdey in The New Avengers, Lumley made her mark in that other famous import, Absolutely Fabulous. Since Ab Fab, she has appeared in Cold Comfort Farm and the upcoming Parting Shots—also starring Rigg.

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