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Natasha Richardson 1963--2009

"A twinkle and sparkle has left the world," was the headline in this morning's Guardian in the UK.

"Natasha combined the best of Vanessa Redgrave and Tony Richardson," mourned Sam Mendes, who directed the radiant actress in her Tony-winning play "Cabaret,. Referring to her actress mother and filmmaker father, Mendes observed, "She had the enormous depth and emotional force of a great actor on the one hand, and the intelligence and objectivity of a great director on the other."

Here's the Inquirer obit, written hastily on deadline. There's so much more to say about the sylphlike actress with the dazzling smile and talent, the voice like ginger and grit, the young woman who emerged from the towering shadow of her prodigiously gifted grandfather and mother and blazed her own path, about the devoted wife and mother, and about her shape-shifting ability to be patrician, slatternly, insecure and confident -- sometimes all at once. Though I treasure the once I saw her on stage -- in "Anna Christie" in the early '90s, I wish she had left behind more movies that showcased her considerable gifts. Everyone loves "The Parent Trap," of course. But then one you should rent to understand what the acting world has lost is "The White Countess," an underdeservedly underknown 2005 film directed by James Ivory. Richardson is the title figure, a Russian countess in 1936 Shangahi, supporting her family as a prostitute and csimultabneously ommunicating more conflicting emotions than almost any actress I've ever seen. Condolences to her mother, aunt, sister, husband and sons.

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