Emma Peel was simply the coolest TV character of the 1960s. Emma displayed a sleek elegance and an aura of sexuality never before seen on American TV during her brief -- 51 episodes -- but memorable tenure as a spy for the British Government in the tongue-in-cheek series. She appealed to male viewers as a beautiful, whimsical and self-assured woman capable of handling any situation.

Emma's eye-popping outfits, called "Emmapeelers," garnered Diana as
much attention as her acting skills. Emma's closet has been described as
"the best leather wardrobe in the history of television."
"The leather catsuit I wore was a total nightmare," Diana said. "It took 45 minutes to get unzipped to go to the loo. It was like struggling in and out of a wet suit."

Diana's wide eyes, high cheekbones and symmetrical face helped make her TV Guide's "Sexiest TV Character of All Time"  in a 1999 poll.

Diana didn't consider herself that attractive at the time. Years later, though, she told an interviewer, "Sometimes I see photographs of myself and think, God, I really was quite tasty. But I didn't know it at the time."

Mrs. Emma Peel was no damstrel in distress bimbo. She was a renaissance woman: a master of martial arts, an outstanding fencer, and a certified genius with an IQ of 152. She wrote books on bridge and drove a sexy Lotus. And she was considered an equal partner of agent John Steed (Patrick Macnee).
And where was Mr. Peel while his wife was saving the UK ? Peter Peel was a pilot whose plane had disappeared flying over the Amazon, and Mrs. Peel was presumed a widow. He returned from the jungle, though, and Emma resumed her married life in Diana's last episode.

Born in England and raised in India, Diana has been regarded as an accomplished actress, building a successful career based more on stage work than Hollywood films. She was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her contributions to theater and film in 1995.

She auditioned for the role "for a giggle," and was horrified to learn after her first season that she was earning less than the cameramen. She staged a short strike and returned to the show after receiving a raise that paid her 10 pounds per week more than the cameramen.

After her two-year stint on "The Avengers," she returned to the stage, and then later played another notable role, that of Countess Teresa di Vicenzo in the James Bond film "On Her Majesty's Secret Service."
Diana Rigg Mrs. Emma Peel "The Avengers"
Diana Rigg Mrs. Emma Peel "The Avengers"
Diana Rigg Mrs. Emma Peel "The Avengers"
Classic TV Beauties
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DIANA RIGG as Mrs. Emma Peel in "The Avengers"
Emma cavorted in a variety of black leather jumpsuits -- created because the clothes wouldn't tear -- and high-heeled leather boots.

She wore a dominatrix outfit, designed by Diana herself, with a three-inch spiked collar, and she brandished a whip in one episode, which wasn't viewed in the US when it first aired because it was deemed too risque.

When Emma went undercover as a belly dancer, she had to stick a jewel in her navel because American censors wouldn't allow viewers to see her naked belly button.
Diana Rigg "The Avengers" Emma Peel
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Marlo Thomas "That Girl" Ann Marie
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Barbara Feldon "Get Smart" Agent 99
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