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Richardson's indelible legacy in New York theater

Natasha Richardson was only in four plays here in 16 years, but she was very much a part of New York theater.

After all, we watched her and Liam Neeson fall in love - literally - before our eyes in 1993.

Both were making their Broadway debut in the Roundabout Theatre's revival of Eugene O'Neill's "Anna Christie." She was married (to British producer Robert Fox). Neeson, a film star, was famously popular with famous women. It didn't hurt that they were both tall, massively attractive creatures enjoying flinty chemistry together. He came onstage, shipwrecked and pumped-up in nothing more than denim overalls. The courtship was palpable.

We also watched her establish herself as a force separate from her celebrated family legacy. In 1998, she won a Tony as a daring Sally Bowles in Sam Mendes' delectably dark revival of "Cabaret." Conspicuously the un-Liza, Richardson didn't have the legs of a dancer or the voice of a singer. But she was a powerful actress who made us believe she was good enough to keep her gig in a second-rate club. She played a tough and pretty girl with a Cheshire smile who toyed with being bad until she found out how bad she really could be. At the end, she sang "come to the Cabaret," standing still at a pole microphone, her eyes getting meaner and colder as she understood exactly what was happening to Nazi Germany around her.

The following season, she was an electrifying, slinky joy of a photographer in Patrick Marber's "Closer." In 2005, she had almost too much healthy gusto as Blanche DuBois, Tennessee Williams' irresistibly neurotic and complex heroine in "A Streetcar Named Desire."

And that was it. On Jan. 12, she and her mother were delicious together as sophisticated daughter and mother in a Roundabout benefit performance of "A Little Night Music." There were rumors of a Broadway production next season. This is never to be.

- Click here to see photos of Natasha Richardson through her life

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

- Click here to see photos of more celebrity deaths that shocked us

Click here to see photos of more stars who died too young


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