NEW YORK (AP) - Natasha Richardson, a gifted and precocious heiress to acting royalty whose career highlights included the film "Patty Hearst" and a Tony-winning performance in a stage revival of "Cabaret," died Wednesday at age 45 after suffering a head injury from a skiing accident.

Alan Nierob, the Los Angeles-based publicist for Richardson's husband Liam Neeson, confirmed her death Tuesday night in a written statement.

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

The statement did not give details on the cause of death for Richardson, who suffered a head injury when she fell on a beginner's trail during a private ski lesson at the luxury Mont Tremblant ski resort in Quebec. She was hospitalized Tuesday in Montreal and later flown to a hospital in New York City.

Family members had been seen coming and going from the New York hospital where Richardson was reportedly taken.

Vanessa Redgrave, Richardson's mother, arrived in a car with darkened windows and was taken through a garage when she arrived at the Lenox Hill Hospital on Manhattan's Upper East Side at around 5 p.m. Wednesday. An hour earlier, Richardson's sister, Joely, arrived alone and was swarmed by the media as she entered through the back of the hospital. 

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