20 MARCH 2009

In New York where actress Natasha Richardson lived for many years, the famous Broadway theatre strip fell silent and the lights were turned off in a midnight ceremony honouring the star who lit up stage, screen and the lives of those around her.

Her heartbroken family, led by mother Vanessa Redgrave and husband Liam Neeson, were supported by fellow actors including Matthew Broderick, who gave the Irish movie star a warm embrace following the tribute. Uma Thurman also expressed her condolences in a private visit to the couple's home.

Mia Farrow described Natasha as "irreplaceable". "She's the godmother of two of my children. I cannot think of anyone kinder, more generous, thoughtful, smarter, or more fun", she said.

The loss was also felt among the actress' British peers, among them Dame Judi Dench, her co-star in 1987 TV series Ghosts. The cinema veteran described Natasha as having a rare "luminous quality", and said she still had great work ahead of her.

Kate Winslet's Oscar-winning husband director Sam Mendes, who worked with the 45-year-old in a Broadway production of Cabaret, said: "It defies belief that this gifted, brave, tenacious, wonderful woman is gone."

He added, she was "an amazing mother, a loyal friend, and the greatest and most generous host you could ever hope to meet".

Family of Natasha Richardson mourns actress' tragic death

Photo: Getty Images
Natasha appeared in several Broadway productions, including this 2005 version of A Streetcar Named Desire. And in tribute to the actress the strip which her talent had so often illuminated was dimmed on Thursday night
Photo: Getty Images
The city's theatre district is usually scintillating with neon signs for the various shows…
Photo: Getty Images
...but following the London-born actress' death on Wednesday, following a skiing accident, the lights were turned off for one minute