Celebrities join wake for Richardson

Celebrities mourned the loss of Natasha Richardson as they joined her grieving husband Liam Neeson at a private wake for the actress.

Celebrities mourned the loss of Natasha Richardson as they joined her grieving husband Liam Neeson at a private wake for the actress.

The 45-year-old Ballymena native spent more than six hours with family and friends including Uma Thurman and Ralph Fiennes at the wake in New York as an array of famous mourners came to express their sadness at her death following a skiing accident.

As her family made preparations for Richardson’s funeral, theatres in London’s West End dimmed their lights in a symbolic tribute to the stage and screen star who died on Wednesday.

Neeson, who was the last to leave the private wake at New York’s American Irish Historical Society, was joined by the couple’s sons – Micheal, 13, and Daniel, 12 – as well as Richardson’s mother, Vanessa Redgrave, and sister, Joely Richardson.

An array of stars including Thurman, Fiennes, Matthew Broderick, Ethan Hawke, Diane Sawyer, Matthew Modine, and Sarah Jessica Parker also came to offer their condolences.

Earlier, Broderick said: “Natasha was a very close friend of our family, so it’s been a very, very sad few days and I think it will stay that way for a good while.”

Mathilde Krim, of the American Foundation of Aids Research – where Richardson had been on the board of trustees since 2006 – said: “She looked incredibly beautiful.”

Ms Krim added that everyone appeared in a state of shock and Neeson appeared distraught as he received everybody.

Meanwhile in London’s West End, illuminations in the world famous theatre district were lowered temporarily prior to curtain up last night.

The Society of London Theatre said the two-minute mark of respect was intended not only for Richardson but for the Redgrave family as a whole. It followed a similar tribute on Broadway in New York, which was watched by Neeson on Thursday.

The actress’s death was announced on Wednesday night, two days after she fell while learning to ski in the Canadian resort of Mont Tremblant.

A medical examiner in New York confirmed an accidental blunt impact to the head had caused her death.

Questions have been raised over the initial response to the accident after it emerged that the first ambulance sent to the injured actress was turned back.

Yves Coderre, director of operations at the emergency services company Ambulances Radisson, told reporters that paramedics called to the incident were told they were not needed.

In a statement, the luxury Mont Tremblant resort in Quebec said its staff would “fully co-operate” with any investigation.

It has previously stated that a ski patrol “insisted” the actress should see a doctor.

It was only later, when Richardson’s condition had deteriorated, that emergency services were able to examine her.

Richardson married 'Schindler’s List' star Neeson in 1994 after they met on the set of the film 'Nell'.

Neeson has not yet spoken in public, although his publicist Alan Nierob issued a brief statement to announce Richardson’s death after family members gathered at her bedside at the Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York.

The statement said: “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.”

Earlier this week, Fiennes, who appeared with Richardson on the films 'The White Countess' and 'Maid In Manhattan', described her death as a “devastating loss”.

“She was a star. A great actress, a beautiful woman, a fiercely loyal friend, a brilliant and generous companion. She was an adoring and loving wife and mother. She was unique.

“I cannot imagine a world without her wit, her love, her mischief, her great, great talent and her gift for living. I loved her very much. She was a supreme friend. I shall miss her deeply.”

Actress Mia Farrow said: “Tasha is irreplaceable. I cannot think of anyone kinder, more generous, thoughtful, smarter or more fun.

“She is the godmother of two of my children. The Neesons and Vanessa have always made me feel a part of their wonderful family. My thoughts and prayers are with them.”

Lindsay Lohan, who co-starred with Richardson in the 1998 film 'The Parent Trap', said: “She was a wonderful woman and actress and treated me like I was her own. My heart goes out to her family. This is a tragic loss.”

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