Natasha Richardson’s family laid the actress to rest today in a private ceremony in New York’s Hudson Valley area. The service took place at 2 p.m. at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Millbrook, N.Y., near Richardson’s home with husband Liam Neeson and their two sons.
The service was only for family and close friends.
Neeson and five other pallbearers carried Richardson’s casket into the church; she was buried in a nearby cemetery, near the grave of her maternal grandmohter, actress Rachel Kempson.
The coffin, made of dark brown wood, arrived in a silver hearse, the New York Post reported. A lone guitarist accompanied them, accompanied by the sound of church bells.
Both Neeson and Richardson’s mother, Vanessa Redgrave, paused for photographs before entering the church.
The family — including Neeson, his sons, Richardson’s mother Vanessa Redgrave and sister Joley Richardson — attended a wake on Saturday at the American Irish Historical Society in Manhattan. Other attendees included Ralph Fiennes, Sara Jessica Parker, Uma Thurman, Mike Nichols, Diane Sawyer, Rupert Everett, Ethan Hawke, Matthew Modine, Howard Stern and Laura Linney. (See slideshow of attendees.)
Both Hollywood and New York were stunned by Richardson’s death. Broadway theaters dimmed their marquees for one minute at 8 p.m. Thursday night in honor of the actress, who died Wednesday at the age of 45 after falling on a ski slope. The New York City medical examiner’s office officially placed the cause of death on an accidental "epidural hematoma due to blunt impact to the head."
The family released their official statement confirming Richardson’s death at 4:52 p.m. ET. Wednesday: “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.”
Richardson’s colleagues in the film world and on Broadway were stunned and saddened by her death.
As early as Tuesday night — while the she was still on life support — several celebrities paid tribute outside an event honoring designer Valentino Garavani.
“She’s a beautiful woman and a great actress,” Blythe Danner told Entertainment Tonight on the red carpet. “She wrote me such a lovely letter when we were under such duress with Bruce (her husband, Bruce Paltrow, who died in 2002 of throat cancer).”
Referring to Richardson and husband Neeson, she said: “I think they’re both extraordinary talents and wonderful parents, and such good people.” Regis Philbin said he once lived across the street from Richardson, adding, “It’s a tragedy.”
Richardson’s friend, Meryl Streep, said, "Tash was the warm sun in the center of a large constellation of family, friends, all of those lucky enough to know her — she is irreplaceable in our lives; she gave us so much, so generously — her legacy is the love that connects us all."
Longtime friend E! gossip columnist Ted Casablanca, who attended her first wedding to producer Robert Fox, wrote on his blog, “Knowing how to keep a marriage, a life and a career going through levity was Tash’s hallmark. She told me so. Her equal senses of humor and grace were paramount to her.”
While never rising to the level of a great movie star herself, Richardson was a respected actress and part of Hollywood royalty, granddaughter of the revered actor Michael Redgrave, daughter of the revered — and controversial — Vanessa Redgrave and her director (“Tom Jones”) husband Tony Richardson.
She met Neeson while co-staring in a 1993 Broadway revival of “Anna Christie,” a role that garnered the actress a Tony nomination. Soon after the play’s run, Richardson separated from Fox and the couple were married in 1994. The same year, they worked together on the film “Nell.”
They lived in Manhattan, and had a house in upstate New York where they threw lavish dinner parties — for which Richardson cooked — that included Ralph Fiennes, Meryl Streep, Laura Linney and others. They have two children, Michael, 13, and Daniel, 12.
Richardson won the Tony for her portrayal of Sally Bowles in “Cabaret.” Her most recent films included “Wild Child” with Emma Roberts and Aidan Quinn and “Evening” with Claire Danes and Toni Collette. Her first role was as an uncredited flower girl in 1968’s “Charge of the Light Brigade,” directed by her father.
Though nothing was confirmed, there was talk that Richardson and her mother were in talks to star in a revival of “A Little Night Music” on Broadway. The two performed songs from the Sondheim musical at a benefit concert in January.
What seems to have touched the hearts of those in Hollywood especially was the senselessness of the accident.
“It’s heartbreaking because she’s a young mother. She’s a wife,” said radio talk-show host Gayle King at the Garavani event Tuesday night. “And it’s one of those freak accidents that when you hear it you think, ‘What happened to her?’”