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Natasha Richardson may be brain dead after skiing fall

MONTREAL - Conflicting reports Tuesday night had actress Natasha Richardson "brain dead" and being flown home to New York for a sad family farewell, or suffering from "brain swelling," a potentially catastrophic condition, but not necessarily the tragic end that many fear is at hand for the wife and mother of two, a member of Britain's most respected acting clan.

This much is known: Richardson was flown to New York Tuesday afternoon after being treated at a Montreal hospital. On her arrival here, it was unclear whether she was being transferred to a hospital or a private home.

- Click here to see photos of Natasha Richardson through the years

- Photos of Natasha Richardson's family at Lenox Hill Hospital in NYC, and the Quebec ski resort

Some published reports said the move came so that mother Vanessa Redgrave, the actress' two children and loved ones could say goodbye, before she's taken off life support. Richardson's representative did not return a call from Newsday Tuesday night.

Richardson, 45, fell during a beginner lesson Monday at Canada's famed Mont Tremblant ski resort. A statement from the resort said the Tony-winning actress did not appear injured at first.

She was taken to the hospital about an hour later after reporting a headache.

She was first taken to the Centre Hospitalier Laurentien in Ste-Agathe, then transferred to Hopital du Sacre-Coeur in Montreal, wire services said.

Richardson is married to actor Liam Neeson, who left the Toronto set of the movie "Chloe" to be with his wife, reports said.

The couple have two sons, Micheal, 13, and Daniel, 12.

"We know that she has had an accident but we really do not know any more details," Kika Markham, who is married to Richardson's uncle, Corin Redgrave, told The Associated Press. "We are very concerned."

Her maternal grandparents were the actors Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson, and her uncle Corin and aunt Lynn Redgrave are also both actors. Sister Joely Richardson is also an actress, best known for starring in the TV series "Nip/Tuck."

Mont Tremblant said Richardson fell on a beginners trail during a ski lesson and later reported not feeling well.

"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," said a statement from the resort.

Richardson, whose films include "Gothic" and "Maid in Manhattan," and her mother Vanessa Redgrave made a rare appearance together Jan. 12 in an acclaimed concert performance of "A Little Night Music" at Studio 54.

In the one-night benefit for the Roundabout Theatre, Natasha played the beautiful actress Desiree and Vanessa played her mother, old Mme Armfeldt, a worldly veteran of countless glamorous liaisons.

The actresses reportedly enjoyed working together so much that there was speculation that they might play the roles on Broadway next season.

- Click here to see photos of Natasha Richardson through the years

- Photos of Natasha Richardson's family at Lenox Hill Hospital in NYC, and the Quebec ski resort

Staff writer Linda Winer contributed to this story. This story was supplemented with an Associated Press report.

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