Actress Natasha Richardson
died yesterday at the age of 45 after a fall while taking a beginner's lesson at the Mont Tremblant Ski Resort
, located 80 miles northwest of Montreal in Quebec, Canada.
After starring with Liam Neeson
in the 1994 Jodie Foster film "Nell
," she married him later that year and would later have two sons, Micheal and Daniel. Richardson was born into a family
with a very long history of actors and actresses. Her grandfather was Michael Redgrave
, and Michael's daughter Vanessa married director Tony Richardson
, a union that brought about Natasha and her sister, actress Joely Richardson (best known to some as Julia in Nip/Tuck
). (Natasha's aunt is actress Lynn Redgrave
.) Her father, who had a "quiet–if not completely closeted–gay life
", died of AIDS at age 63; his wife Vanessa made large contributions to AIDS-related charities, and Richardson became very active organizing and planning fundraisers and other related work for amFAR
An hour after the fall, Ms. Richardson reported she was "not feeling well," and was taken first to a local hospital, then to Montreal's Hopital du Sacre-Coeur
, then to NYC's Lenox Hill Hospital
, where she passed away.
Richardson began her career as a four-year-old flower girl in her father's 1968 film "The Charge of the Light Brigade
", and acted throughout her adolescence, breaking into larger-scale starring roles as Mary Shelley
and Patty Hearst
, as well as the starring role of Kate in "The Handmaid's Tale
." She became known to the Disney-watching crowd as the "nasty wife" in the Lindsey Lohan "Parent Trap
" remake, as well as a role in Jennifer Lopez's film, "Maid in Manhattan
Richardson has been said to have had "talk and die syndrome," but this is simply a referral to "the fact that we always worry about people with head injuries that don't show up immediately, which is why we like to observe people after a head injury for 24 hours." Scientific American
with the chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center indicates that she may have had an arterial dissection in a blood vessel in the brain, possibly leading to a brain stem stroke; an epidural hematoma; or an arteriovenous malformation.
While it may be entirely unrelated to the nature of Ms. Richardson's injury, Iraq war veterans have been having similar yet non-fatal experiences where they walk away fine from a brain injury only to feel the effects at a later point. This was covered in Popular Science
's August 2008 issue, in a story called "Shock to the System
." In it, neuroscientist Ibolja Cernak [...] "believes that blasts may do more than just rattle the head; the shock waves also compress the torso, which may cause pressure waves to ripple through blood vessels like miniature tsunamis, rushing into the brain and damaging tissue." One wonders whether the testing gadget
used to monitor for brain trauma might be adapted in the future to civilian use in sports with possible risk of brain injury such as skiing, boxing, etc., in order to prevent the kind of circumstances that may have caused Ms. Richardson's death.