Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Liam Neeson's wife Natasha Richardson dies

Natasha Richardson
Natasha Richardson
Natasha Richardson and Liam Neeson
Vanessa Redgrave dressed for her lead role in the film "Isadora', talks with her daughter Natasha, in 1967
Liam Neeson leaves Lenox Hill Hospital in New York
Antonio Neeson, second from right and his brother Daniel Jack Neeson, left, sons of actress Natasha Richardson leave Lenox Hill Hospital in New York
Natasha Richardson
British actress Vanessa Redgrave, center, poses with her daughters actresses Natasha Richardson, left, and Joely Richardson
Natasha Richardson
Vanessa Redgrave and her husband, film director Tony Richardson, with their first child, week-old daughter Natasha, 1963
Liam Neeson's wife Natasha Richardson
Natasha Richardson
Natasha Richardson
Natasha and Liam

Natasha Richardson was declared dead at the Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan after her condition deteriorated rapidly following a fall at the Quebec resort of Mont Tremblant on Monday.

Her family, including Ballymena-born husband Liam Neeson, mother Vanessa Redgrave, sister Joely Richardson and sons Micheál and Daniel, were at the hospital when she died just before midnight.

Liam’s publicist, Alan Nierob, said: “Liam Neeson, his sons, and the entire family are shocked and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Natasha.

“They are profoundly grateful for the support, love and prayers of everyone, and ask for privacy during this very difficult time.”

Throughout yesterday, a number of increasingly grim reports suggested that the 45-year-old actress, who had been married to superstar Ulster actor Neeson for nearly 15 years, was slipping away.

“There is no chance,” a family friend said. “Her heart is beating, but she is brain dead.”

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With her Ballymena-born husband, mother and sister at her side, Natasha Richardson passed away in a New York hospital last night after a day of increasingly grim reports that she was in a deep coma from which she was unlikely to return.

As reporters and television cameras converged at the main entrance of the Lenox Hill Hospital on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, family representatives issued a brief statement saying that 45-year-old Ms Richardson had died.

The statment said simply that Liam and the couple’s son were “shock and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Natasha.

“They are profoundly grateful for the support, love and prayers of everyone, and ask for privacy during this very difficult time.”

All day the silence from both the family and the hospital had seemed ominous, as if confirming the growing numbers of reports that Ms Richardson, who suffered what at first seemed a straightforward fall when skiing on a bunny slope in the Quebec resort of Mont Tremblant on Monday afternoon, was brain dead and beyond recovery.

Among those seen entering the New York hospital during the day were the actress’s mother, Vanessa Redgrave, and her sister, Joely Richardson. It appeared that the family was preparing to face the most agonising of all dilemmas — when to end life support.

“There is no chance,” a family friend had been quoted in People magazine. “It is a fact that her heart is beating, but she is brain dead.” The magazine’s website referred to the actress suffering a “devastating head injury”.

Liam had travelled with her aboard an executive jet from Montreal to New York on Tuesday. He was seen by Canadian reporters crouched inside the ambulance that took her from the Montreal hospital to the plane. His wife was wrapped in blankets with tubes around her face.

The French-language newspaper in Montreal, La Presse, said that a source at the Sacre Coeur Hospital had confirmed Ms Richardson had fallen into a “profound and irreversible coma”.

Another anonymous family friend said her condition amounted to “leakage of blood between the brain and skull”, adding that she had been flown to New York on Tuesday to allow family and friends the chance to say farewell. “It’s not official yet,” the source added, “but they basically will detach her”.

The celebrity news website TMZ corroborated the dire prognosis, reporting alleged intelligence gleaned during the ambulance ride from the New York airport to Lenox Hill, which described the actress as “unconscious” with “non-reactive pupils”.

Ms Richardson had been taking a skiing lesson at Mont Tremblant when the fall happened. At first she stood up, declared herself fit and returned to her hotel room. She was accompanied by a member of the resort’s ski patrol, however, and was taken to hospital after admitting to a bad headache one hour later.

She had reportedly travelled to the resort on Sunday with her two teenage boys to ski while Liam worked on the set of his next film, Chloe, in Toronto. The couple live in New York City and have a country home in the Hudson Valley.

In New York, both Natasha and Liam, whom she married in 1994, had become highly popular regulars on the social and charity season, particular among some Irish-Americans. The actress also secured herself a special place in New York following her widely applauded portrayal of Sally Bowles in the revival of Cabaret in 1998, for which was given a Tony Award.

She was also a member of the fourth generation of the Redgrave clans, arguably the most distinguished of Britain’s theatrical dynasties.

The accident has already igniting fresh debate about skiing and the need or otherwise for adults as well as children to wear helmets.

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