Natasha Richardson, the Tony Award winning stage and screen star and scion of British performing arts royalty, has died following a skiing accident. She was 45.

The daughter of Vanessa Redgrave and the late director Tony Richardson was flown to hospital close to her home in New York on Tuesday evening [March 17], the day after she injured her head during a skiing lesson at the Mont Tremblant resort in Quebec.

Richardson's husband Liam Neeson flew from the Toronto set of Atom Egoyan's Chloe to be by her bedside and joined the actress' mother Vanessa Redgrave, sister Joely Richardson, aunt Lynn Redgrave, and her ex-husband Robert Fox.

Richardson was nominated for a British Independent Film Award best actress prize for her lead role in David Mackenzie's 2005 romantic thriller Asylum. Her feature credits included The White Countess, The Handmaid's Tale, Patty Hearst and Maid In Manhattan.

She began her stage career with the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds and went on to earn widespread critical acclaim for a range of lead roles in such plays as Anna Christie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Closer and Cabaret, for which she won a best actress Tony Award in 1998.

Neeson's publicist Alan Nierob issued a statement that read: '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.'

Neeson and Richardson co-starred on stage in 1993 in Anna Christie and reunited a year later on screen in Michael Apted's Nell. They married in 1994 and had two sons Michael, 13, and Daniel, aged 12.

Chairman of Bafta, David Parfitt paid tribute to the actress: 'We were shocked to hear of the tragic and untimely death of Natasha Richardson.Natasha was a genuinely delightful person and she will be missed by everyone who knew her. Our thoughts are with her family especially Liam and the boys.'