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Natasha Richardson dies after ski fall

  • Story Highlights
  • Actress Natasha Richardson fell Monday while skiing
  • Richardson appeared fine, but became ill soon after
  • Actress, 45, was daughter of Vanessa Redgrave, wife of Liam Neeson
  • Family says they are "shocked and devastated," thank all for support
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Natasha Richardson, a film star, Tony-winning stage actress and member of the famed Redgrave acting family, died Wednesday after suffering injuries in a ski accident, according to a family statement. She was 45.

Richardson had two sons with husband Liam Neeson.

Natasha Richardson fell on a beginners' slope in Canada.

Richardson, wife of actor Liam Neeson, was injured Monday in a fall on a ski slope at a Quebec resort about 80 miles northwest of Montreal.

Richardson's family released a statement saying, "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."

According to a statement from Mont Tremblant Ski Resort, Richardson fell during a lesson on a beginners' trail. Video Watch a report on Richardson's life »

"She did not show any visible sign of injury, but the ski patrol followed strict procedures and brought her back to the bottom of the slope and insisted she should see a doctor," the statement said.

Richardson, accompanied by her instructor, returned to her hotel, but about an hour after the fall was "not feeling good," the statement said. An ambulance was called, and Richardson was taken to a local hospital before being transferred to Hopital du Sacre-Coeur in Montreal. From there she was transferred to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Friends and colleagues were saddened by her death.

"Natasha was brilliant, beautiful, funny, talented beyond measure, as emotionally raw as she was razor sharp," said Jodie Foster, who worked with Richardson in "Nell," in a statement. "Tasha loved fiercely and that love continues in all of us who knew her. May Liam, her beautiful boys and her loving family hold her close as they move through this tragic moment."

"Natasha combined the best of [her parents, Vanessa] Redgrave and [Tony] Richardson: the enormous depth and emotional force of a great actor on the one hand, and the intelligence and objectivity of a great director on the other. She was a one-of-a-kind, a magnificent actress," said director Sam Mendes in a statement.

Mendes directed Richardson in her Tony-winning "Cabaret" performance.

Richardson was practically born to perform. Her grandfather, Sir Michael Redgrave, was a famed British actor. Her mother, Vanessa Redgrave, is an Oscar-winning actress, and her father, the late director Tony Richardson, helmed such films as "Look Back in Anger," "The Entertainer" and the Oscar-winning "Tom Jones."

Natasha Richardson's uncle Corin Redgrave, aunt Lynn Redgrave, and sister Joely Richardson are also noted performers.

But being part of a family of actors wasn't always easy for Richardson. Her parents divorced when she was 4 and her mother, involved in controversial political causes, gave away a lot of money, putting the family in financial straits, according to the BBC.

Then there was the family heritage, of which Richardson once said, "Though my name opened doors it didn't get me work, and a lot of pressure comes from having a mother who is considered one of the greatest actresses of her generation," the BBC reported.

In 2007, Richardson worked with her mother in the film "Evening." Richardson said she made one point to director Lajos Koltai about the relatives working together.

"This is a unique opportunity," she said she told him. "This is the one time my mother and I are going to play mother and daughter on screen, so you've got to take advantage of it." Video Watch Richardson talk about working with her mom »

Richardson's first film role was a bit part in her father's "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (1968), made when she was 4. After a handful of roles through her teens and early 20s, she broke through as Mary Shelley in Ken Russell's film "Gothic," and followed that up as Patty Hearst in Paul Schrader's 1988 film of the same name. iReport.com: Share memories of Richardson

Richardson's other notable films included "The Handmaid's Tale" (1990); the TV movie "Zelda" (1993); "Nell" (1994), alongside Neeson, whom she married in 1994; the 1998 remake of "The Parent Trap"; and "Wild Child" (2008). Video Watch Larry King and his panel talk about Richardson's career and death »

But some of Richardson's greatest successes were on the stage. At 22, she played opposite her mother and Jonathan Pryce in a London production of Anton Chekhov's "The Seagull"; the performance earned her the London Drama Critics' most promising newcomer award.

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She won a Tony for her performance as Sally Bowles in the 1998 revival of "Cabaret" and earned raves for her Blanche DuBois in a 2005 production of "A Streetcar Named Desire." She was scheduled to perform in a revival of Stephen Sondheim's "A Little Night Music" this year, following a January benefit performance of the show.

She and Neeson have two children, Michael and Daniel. Richardson was married to Robert Fox from 1990 to 1994.

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