- The Washington Times - Monday, March 23, 2009

UPDATED:

LITHGOW, N.Y.

A somber group of friends and family gathered in a small Hudson Valley town Sunday to say a final farewell to Tony Award-winning actress Natasha Richardson.

Liam Neeson, in a dark suit and sunglasses, was at the head of the casket as he and five other pallbearers carried his wife’s coffin into St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, near the home where the two married in 1994.

He and Miss Richardson’s mother, actress Vanessa Redgrave, waved to the dozens of reporters crowded behind a police barricade on the dirt road leading to the tiny white clapboard church. The grieving family, including the couple’s two sons, Michael, 13, and Daniel, 12, then paused to allow the media to photograph them in front of church before the service.

Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Laura Linney, Uma Thurman and Timothy Dalton were among the friends who filed into the church.

After a graveside service under a large green tent, the 45-year-old actress’ body was buried in a nearby cemetery, amid hilly horse farms about 80 miles north of New York City.

She was laid to rest near the grave of her maternal grandmother, the actress Rachel Kempson, who died while visiting her granddaughter and Mr. Neeson at their home in nearby Millbrook in 2003. Mr. Neeson and the Redgrave family, including Miss Richardson’s sister, actress Joely Richardson, visited Mrs. Kempson’s grave after the burial.

Miss Richardson died Wednesday at a Manhattan hospital after falling while skiing Monday at the Mont Tremblant resort in the Canadian province of Quebec. The New York City medical examiner’s office said she suffered from an epidural hematoma, which causes bleeding between the skull and the brain’s covering. She wasn’t wearing a helmet when she fell.

Miss Richardson is descended from one of Britain’s great acting dynasties but built her own reputation in films such as “Patty Hearst” and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” as well as for her work on the stage. She won a Tony for her role in the 1998 revival of “Cabaret.”

She costarred with future husband Mr. Neeson in the 1993 revival of Eugene O’Neill’s “Anna Christie.” The two married at their secluded Millbrook home the next year.

The famous couple was well known in the area, which counts many celebrities among its part-time residents. “She was a lovely lady,” said local resident Steve Lyall. “We’ll miss her in the community.”

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