\"Neeson

Actor Liam Neeson, and his wife actress Natasha Richardson at the Dublin Premiere of "Stars Wars: Episode 1, The Phantom Menace" Photo by: Chris Bacon/PA

Natasha Richardson dead after ski accident

\"Neeson

Actor Liam Neeson, and his wife actress Natasha Richardson at the Dublin Premiere of "Stars Wars: Episode 1, The Phantom Menace" Photo by: Chris Bacon/PA

NEW YORK — Actress Natasha Richardson has died, IrishCentral has learned exclusively.

The family of the Tony-winning actress with at her bedside at a New York hospital when she passed away this afternoon. She was 45.

Richardson, the wife of Irish superstar Liam Neeson,  suffered a "traumatic head injury" after a skiing accident in the Quebec resort of Mont Tremblan.

Neeson, who was filming in Toronto at the time, flew to Montreal to be with her until she was transfered to New York.

Neeson himself was almost killed in a motorcycle accident in 2000. He was riding his bike in upstate New York when a deer ran in front of the bike, causing a terrible collision. Neeson suffered a broken pelvis, broken heel and a number of abrasions from the accident, and spent months undergoing grueling physical therapy.

A spokeswoman for the ski resort issued a statement yesterday which said "Ms Richardson fell during a ski lesson but she didn't show any signs of injury. The ski patrol looked at her and reported that she was laughing and joking.

"'They told her to see someone but she insisted that she was fine and just wanted to go back to her room. The instructor and two members of the patrol accompanied her to her hotel room.

""She refused to see anyone and signed a paper saying she didn't want to see a doctor.

"After an hour or so she said she had a headache, then they called 911.
"She was not wearing a helmet. The law in Quebec does not require it but we always suggest it but cannot impose it," the ski resort said.
 
Sources told IrishCentral.com that Richardson, who was set to co-star with her mother, Vanessa Redgrave, in a Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's "A Little Night Music," had suffered a "traumatic head injury."

“Liam Neeson left the Toronto set immediately ...upon news of his wife’s accident,” the rep said in a statement. “We do not have any details at this time but we hope for the best and our thoughts and prayers are with Natasha and Liam and their family.”

Richardson was transferred to Hopital du Sacre-Coeur de Montreal at about 5 p.m. after initially being taken to entre Hospitalier Laurentien, which is close to the exclusive Mont Tremblant ski resort in Quebec.

People.com reported: "We know that she has had an accident but we really do not know any more details," said Kika Markham, who is married to Richardson's uncle, Corin Redgrave. "We are very concerned."

Neeson and Richardson, who have been married since 1994, have two sons, Micheal Richard Antonio, 13, and Daniel Jack, 12.

Richardson made her feature film debut as Mary Shelley in Ken Russell's "Gothic" (1986). Her performance caught the attention of director Paul Schrader, who cast her in the title role in "Patty Hearst" (1988).

Since then, Ms. Richardson has achieved notable success in such films as Pat O'Connor's "A Month in the Country" (1987), Roland Joffé's "Fat Man and Little Boy" (1989) and "The Favour, the Watch and the Very Big Fish" (1991), featuring Bob Hoskins and Jeff Goldblum.

For her performance in Volker Schlöndorff's "The Handmaid's Tale" (1990) and Schrader's "The Comfort of Strangers" (1990), Richardson earned The London Evening Standard Award for Best Actress of 1990; and for "Widows' Peak" (1994), also starring Mia Farrow and Joan Plowright, she received the Best Actress Award at the 1994 Karlovy Vary Festival.

In 1995 she co-starred with Jodie Foster and Liam Neeson in "Nell" (1994) and, in 1998, in "The Parent Trap" (1998) with Dennis Quaid. Her recent films include "Blow Dry" (2001) released in 2001, and Ethan Hawke's "Chelsea Walls" (2001).

Trained at London's Central School of Speech and Drama, Richardson has performed extensively on stage in roles including Helena in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and Ophelia in "Hamlet" at the Young Vic.

In 1986 she garnered the London Drama Critics' Most Promising Newcomer Award for her performance as Nina in "The Seagull", with Vanessa Redgrave and Jonathan Pryce. In 1987 she played Tracey Lord in Richard Eyre's musical "High Society".

She performed the title role of "Anna Christie", first in London, where she was voted London Drama Critics' Best Actress Award in 1992, then on Broadway at the Roundabout in 1993, where she was nominated for a Tony for Best Actress in a Play, a Theatre World Award for Outstanding Debut, the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Debut of an Actress, and a Drama Desk nomination for Best Actress.

For her performance as Sally Bowles in Sam Mendes' production of "Cabaret", she won the 1998 Tony, Outer Critics Circle, Drama League and Drama Desk Awards for Best Actress in a Musical. She then appeared on Broadway in Patrick Marber's Tony-nominated play "Closer". This December she will play "Miss Julie" on Broadway with Philip Seymour Hoffman, directed by David Leveaux for Roundabout Theatre.

Richardson's television credits include Henrik Ibsen's "Ghosts" for the BBC, also starring Judi Dench, Michael Gambon and Kenneth Branagh; the HBO cable feature "Hostages" (1993) (TV); the BBC film "Suddenly, Last Summer" (1993) (TV), based on the play by Tennessee Williams, and also starring Maggie Smith and Rob Lowe. In 1993 she starred as Zelda Fitzgerald in the TNT movie "Zelda" (1993) (TV), co-starring Timothy Hutton and directed by Pat O'Connor (cable Ace nomination for Best Actress). She played Ruth Gruber in the 2001 CBS mini-series "Haven" (2001) (TV) based on Ms. Gruber's autobiography.

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