Fans rejoiced Monday afternoon at the news that Tanya Roberts was not dead, as her partner, Lance O’Brien, had told the actress’ rep on Sunday. But now, The New York Times and TMZ report that the former Bond Girl and That ‘70s Show star ultimately died Monday evening. She was 65.
Roberts collapsed on Christmas Eve after walking her dogs and was taken to the hospital where she was ultimately put on a ventilator, her rep told TMZ on Sunday. The actress had complications of a UTI that spread to her kidneys, liver and gallbladder before it “got into her blood,” O’Brien has told press. During the time when Roberts’ death was prematurely announced, O’Brien gave a statement reading, “As I held her in her last moments, she opened her eyes” and had told Roberts’ rep “she died in my arms,” according to TMZ. O’Brien later told the outlet that doctors had informed him Roberts did not have much time so he went to the hospital and sat in her room, where she opened her eyes and tried to hold on to him, but then her eyes closed and she “faded.” He went on to explain that he left the room devastated and never spoke to medical staff, assuming she had died. O’Brien reportedly got a call from the hospital’s ICU unit on Monday to inform him that he was wrong and Roberts was still alive—a conversation all caught on tape by Inside Edition, who had been interviewing O’Brien at the time. That call, which Roberts’ rep said came around 10 a.m. PT on Monday, was followed by another at 9 p.m. PT informing O’Brien that Roberts had been officially declared dead, TMZ reports.
Born and raised in the Bronx, Roberts—or Victoria Leigh Blum, as she was known then—left high school at age 15 to hitchhike across the country. Upon returning to New York, she began working as a model and then actress. After starting off in commercials and off-Broadway dramas, Roberts made her film debut in the 1975 horror movie Forced Entry.
In the summer of 1980, Roberts was chosen to replace Shelley Hack on the fifth season of Charlie’s Angels, but the series would be canceled a year later. Roberts next starred as Kiri in the 1982 adventure fantasy film The Beastmaster, which she followed up with more fantasy and B-movie fare including Sins Of Desire, Legal Tender, Deep Down, Inner Sanctum, Night Eyes, Almost Pregnant, Favorite Deadly Sins, Tourist Trap, and Sheena: Queen Of The Jungle. The latter was a box-office failure and garnered Roberts a nomination for “Worst Actress” at the Razzie Awards.
Roberts followed up that flop with one of her most memorable roles, geologist Stacey Sutton in 1985's A View to a Kill opposite Roger Moore. The actress would become known to a whole new generation of fans when she joined the cast of Fox’s That ’70s Show as Midge, the mother of Donna (Laura Prepon), in 1998. Roberts left the series in 2001 after her first husband, Barry Roberts, was diagnosed with a terminal illness. She returned to the series as a guest star in 2004 but did not have any acting credits after her husband’s death in 2006. Roberts’ final role was as Ellie Palmer on Showtime’s Barbershop: The Series.
Roberts is survived by O’Brien and her sister, Barbara Chase.