- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2009

NEW YORK — Tony-winning actress Natasha Richardson died of a brain injury after falling on a ski slope, an autopsy found Thursday.

The cause of death was epidural hematoma, or bleeding between the skull and the brain’s covering, said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner’s office. The death was ruled an accident.

Richardson, 45, died Wednesday at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan after falling at the Mont Tremblant resort in Quebec on Monday.

Broadway theaters intended to dim their lights Thursday in honor of Richardson. Theater marquees will be dimmed for one minute at 8 p.m., the traditional starting time for evening performances of Broadway shows.

“The Broadway community is shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one of our finest young actresses, Natasha Richardson. Her theatrical lineage is legendary, but her own singular talent shined memorably on any stage she appeared,” said Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of The Broadway League, the trade organization for Broadway theaters and producers.

Sam Mendes, who directed the Broadway musical “Cabaret” for which Richardson won a Tony, said: “It defies belief that this gifted, brave, tenacious, wonderful woman is gone.”

Actress Judi Dench told the BBC that Richardson was “a really great actress” who had “an incredibly luminous quality, that you seldom see, and a great sense of humor.”

“She was a wonderful woman and actress and treated me like I was her own,” said Lindsay Lohan, who as a preteen starred with Richardson in a remake of “The Parent Trap” in 1998. “My heart goes out to her family. This is a tragic loss.”

Yves Coderre, director of operations at the emergency services company that sent paramedics to the Mont Tremblant resort where Richardson suffered her fall, told The Globe and Mail newspaper Wednesday the paramedics who responded were told they were not needed.

“They never saw the patient,” Coderre told The Globe and Mail. “So they turned around.”

Coderre said another ambulance was called later to Richardson’s luxury hotel. By that point, her condition had gotten worse and she was rushed to a hospital.

Like other family members, Richardson divided her time between stage and screen. On Broadway, she portrayed Sally Bowles in the 1998 revival of “Cabaret.” She also appeared in New York in a production of Patrick Marber’s “Closer” (1999) as well as the 2005 revival of Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire,” in which she played Blanche DuBois opposite John C. Reilly’s Stanley Kowalski.

She met husband Liam Neeson when they made their Broadway debuts in 1993, co-starring in “Anna Christie,” Eugene O’Neill’s drama about a former prostitute and the sailor who falls in love with her.

Her most notable film roles came earlier in her career. Richardson played the title character in Paul Schrader’s “Patty Hearst,” a 1988 biopic about the kidnapped heiress for which the actress became so immersed that even between scenes she wore a blindfold, the better to identify with her real-life counterpart.

Richardson was directed again by Schrader in a 1990 adaptation of Ian McEwan’s “The Comfort of Strangers” and, also in 1990, starred in the screen version of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

She later co-starred with Neeson in “Nell” and with Mia Farrow in “Widows’ Peak.” More recent movies, none of them widely seen, included “Wild Child,” ”Evening” and “Asylum.”

Richardson was born in London in 1963, the performing gene inherited not just from her parents (Redgrave and director Tony Richardson), but from her maternal grandparents (Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson), an aunt (Lynn Redgrave) and an uncle (Corin Redgrave). Her younger sister, Joely Richardson, also joined the family business.

She also is survived by two sons, Micheal, 13, and Daniel, 12.

Funeral arrangements will be handled by the Greenwich Village Funeral Home, Borakove said.

Associated Press Writer Karen Matthews also contributed to this report.

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