Natasha Richardson

Tony-award winning actress Natasha Richardson, an heir of the Redgrave acting dynasty who started a theatrical family of her own with her marriage to Liam Neeson, has died after suffering a head injury from a skiing accident. She was 45.

"Liam Neeson, his sons, and the entire family are shocked and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Natasha," Neeson's publicist, Alan Nierob, said in a written statement. "They are profoundly grateful for the support, love and prayers of everyone, and ask for privacy during this very difficult time."

Richardson, a mother to two sons — Micheal, 13, and Daniel Jack, 12 — suffered head injuries at Mont Tremblant ski resort in Quebec, Canada. She showed no signs of injury after falling on training slopes Monday, but soon felt ill and was hospitalized, a resort spokeswoman said.

The daughter of Vanessa Redgrave and director Tony Richardson, she was born into a family of actors, including her sister, Nip/Tuck star Joely Richardson, and her aunt, Lynn Redgrave, who starred in Tom Jones (1963) and Georgy Girl (1966), among other films. Richardson won a Tony award in 1998 for starring in Sam Mendes' Broadway production of Cabaret.

Her long love affair with Neeson began when they starred on Broadway in Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie, about a sultry liaison between the title character and an Irish sailor. Their chemistry was obvious from the start, and her four-year marriage to producer Robert Fox ended about a month after closing night.

"It was not an easy time when I met Liam," she later told the Daily News of New York. "Working with him, what happened between us, and that becoming public knowledge in conjunction with my marriage falling apart, was kind of bad timing. So what can I say? Obviously I fell very much in love with him."

She didn't mind that Neeson, then 40, was known at the time as ladies man who had dated Julia Roberts, Helen Mirren, and Brooke Shields.

"I'm pleased that women fall in love with him," she said, "because I know why."

They starred together the next year in the film Nell, with Jodie Foster.

Born in London, Richardson made her uncredited film debut at the age of four in Charge of the Light Brigade, which was directed by her father and starred her mother.

She later appeared in British regional theater and made her credited film debut in 1984's Every Picture Tells a Story. She had breakthrough roles in the 1988 biopic Patty Hearst and the 1990 film The Handmaid's Tale. Other films included Gothic (1987), The Parent Trap (1998) and Maid in Manhattan (2002).