Tanya Roberts, the actress that holds the rare accomplishment of being a Bond Girl and one of Charlie’s Angels, died Monday evening in Los Angeles.
Her passing was confirmed by her publicist Mike Pingel, who had previously stated that the actress had died Sunday evening. That report was then discovered to be erroneous as Pingel was relying on information from Roberts’s partner Lance O’Brien, who had been misinformed about her condition by Cedar Sinai Hospital, where the actress had been admitted falling a fall at home on Christmas Eve. She was taken to the hospital and put on a respirator but never recovered. COVID-19 is not believed to play a role in her death, as per TMZ.
Born Victoria Leigh Blum in the Bronx, NY, Roberts got her start in the entertainment business in the early 1970s as a model, working in commercials for products such as Excedrin and Clairol, while attending classes at the Actor’s Studio and performing in Off-Broadway shows. Around the same time, she married a writer by the name of Barry Roberts and changed her first name to Tanya when she started getting work.
Roberts made her feature film debut in 1975’s Forced Entry (also known as The Last Victim) alongside Nancy Allen and Michael Tucci. Her early career consisted of failed pilots and work in film thrillers before getting what could be considered her big break in Charlie’s Angels.
In 1980, Roberts was chosen from thousands of actresses to replace Shelly Hack in the show. She played Julie Rogers, a streetwise New York model who preferred using her fist over guns. The producers hoped adding Roberts would improve viewership, but it couldn’t counteract ABC bouncing the show around its schedule. The network cancelled Charlie’s Angels at the end of Roberts’ first season as an Angel.
While Roberts’ presence on the show was not enough to save it from cancellation, the show did give a burst to her career. Roberts began appearing in higher profile films such as The Beastmaster and as the title character in 1984’s comic book adaptation, Sheena Queen of the Jungle.
In 1985, Roberts was cast as geologist Stacey Sutton in A View to a Kill, the fourteenth canonical James Bond film and the last film to feature Roger Moore in the title role. Although a hit, the film received decidedly mixed reviews and Roberts’ performance garnered her a Golden Raspberry nomination for Worst Actress, which she lost to Linda Blair.
Roberts’ career would veer into the realm of B-movies for several years, especially in the “erotic thriller” genre, both in films (Inner Sanctum, Night Eyes, Sins of Desire) and on television (Silk Stalkings, Hot Line).
Roberts would make a career resurgence when she was cast as Midge Pincotti, mother of Laura Prepon’s character Donna, on That 70’s Show. She was a regular on the show from 1998 until 2001, when she left to care for her terminally ill husband, Barry. She would return periodically for guest appearances over the remaining run of the show.
Her career up until her death was devoted to the celebrity meet and greet circuit. She was making virtual meet and greets until the day she was taken ill.