Rignold was born in Leicester. He was the son of William Rignall, an actor and theatre manager, and his wife Patience Blaxland, an actress. The surname Rignold was used professionally by both George and his brother William. George Rignold began his acting career quite young, playing the part of the messenger in Macbeth.
Rignold soon gained a reputation as an actor, playing in London the parts of William in Black-Eyed Susan and Romeo in Romeo and Juliet. In 1869, he was part of the company at the Queen's Theatre, Long Acre. He then toured the United States (where women would fight over the good-looking actor) and Canada from 1875, where he made a great impression — a reference in The Atlantic Monthly in 1938 shows that memory of him persisted. He then toured in Australia. He spent a season playing Henry V at Drury Lane, where Staffordshire replicas were made of Rignold as the king on horseback. Rignold again toured the United States and then settled in Australia. He held the lease for Her Majesty's Theatre, Sydney when it opened 10 September 1887 and held it for seven years. Rignold played Henry V on opening night.
The Bulletin of 18 November 1899 criticised his arrogance and impatience with stage-managers. He retired in 1900 but came out of retirement in 1907 to play Jason successfully in The Bondman, produced by Bland Holt. His last stage appearance was at a benefit for George Sutton Titheradge in December 1910.
Rignold's first wife died in 1902. He remarried in 1907 a daughter of George Selth Coppin. There were no children by either marriage. Rignold died on 16 December 1912 at Charlemont Private Hospital, Darlinghurst. He left his estate of £11,000 to the Royal General Theatrical Fund.
- Serle, Percival (1949). "Rignold, George". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus and Robertson.
- Helen M. van der Poorten, 'Rignall, George Richard (1839 - 1912)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, MUP, 1976, p. 30.
- Her Majesty’s Theatre, Sydney account of Rignold on the theatre's opening night
- P. McGuire et al., The Australian Theatre (Melbourne, 1948)