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RIP Tanya Roberts, Bond Girl & That 70s Show Star

Tanya Roberts. Famed Bond girl and That 70’s Show star, sadly died on Sunday, January 3rd at the age of 65. It’s reported that she collapsed on Christmas Eve after coming back home after walking her dogs. She was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Hospital in LA where she was placed on a ventilator. She died just days later but the exact cause of death has yet to be released. A spokesperson speaking on behalf of her family did however express that her death was not COVID-19 related. She left behind her partner Lance O’Brien and her sister Barbara.

Her sudden and unexpected death has sent shockwaves across the entertainment industry. She won’t be soon forgotten by those whose lives she has touched. Let’s honor her memory by taking a closer look at her life and career.

Tanya’s Early Years and The Beginning Of Her Career

Roberts came into this world on October 15, 1955. She was born Victoria Leigh Blum but later adopted the name Tanya after entering the world of modeling. She came from humble beginnings. She and her older sister, Barbara, grew up in the Bronx. Her father was a fountain pen salesman in Manhattan and her mother was a homemaker. Her family struggled to make ends meet because as it turns out there’s not actually a lot of money in the writing instrument industry. Eventually, her parents divorced and Tanya went to live with her mother in Toronto, Canada.

Roberts knew that she wanted to be an actress and model when she was just a teenager. She was blessed with good looks and started taking headshots and compiling her portfolio with the plan of eventually making inroads into the entertainment industry.

That plan was almost prematurely derailed however when she impulsively got married at the tender age of 15 and joined her bohemian husband on a cross country hitchhiking trip across the United States. To be fair though, the call of the road lured a lot of young people to do the same back in those years, but if she wanted a chance to actually achieve her dreams she was going to have to come back home and keep working at it. When her mother was finally able to track her down, she forced her to annul her marriage despite the fact that she was very much so in love with her hippie husband.

No doubt, this was an emotional time for Roberts but it only fueled her passion to pursue her goals of modeling and acting. Shortly after her hitchhiking escapade and first marriage were cut short, she returned to the United States and started modeling. It wasn’t long before she was on the cover of numerous fashion magazine covers and was being offered regular photoshoot opportunities. It would seem that her hard work and perseverance were starting to pay off.

In 1974, she got married to Barry Roberts. While her new husband was pursuing a career as a screenwriter and she started studying acting at the Actors Studio under the legendary instructors Lee Strasberg and Uta Hagen in Manhattan. She was a fast learner and immediately got started reaching out to casting directors in hopes of finding gainful employment onscreen. She wasn’t satisfied with simply seeing herself on the glossy pages of magazines. She wanted to see her name in lights up on the marquis.

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Dedicated and Driven

Some might be resentful for the troubles that she went through during childhood but those negative experiences only helped her to stay humble and grateful for what she did have. They also pushed her forward. She wasn’t the kind of person to simply give up when the going gets rough.

In the early 1970s, Robert’s screen career got started with small parts in television spots for brands like Excedrin, Clairol, and Cool Ray sunglasses. She then landed some heftier roles in off-Broadway theatrical productions but she still wasn’t satisfied with those opportunities. Sure they were a step in the right direction but they certainly weren’t the finish line by any means. She still wanted something more. After all, theater roles and television ads don’t exactly pay that much, nor did they offer the kind of exposure that she was craving.

She struggled to pay her bills had had to find extra work as a dance instructor just to put food on the table but she wasn’t about to let a few speedbumps discourage her from chasing her dreams. Roberts was always a go-getter. It took a lot to bring her down because even when she struggled, that just motivated her all the more so to prove her critics and haters wrong by succeeding.

Eventually, a talent agent discovered her and offered her a role in a low-budget slasher flick called ‘Forced Entry’ in 1975. Soon after she landed several more roles in relatively low-key films such as Fingers, The Yum Yum Gris, and Tourist Trap – the latter of which eventually became a cult classic of sorts.

From 1980 to 1981, she played Julie Rogers on Charlie’s Angels having replaced Cheryl Hack. She, unfortunately, joined the series at the wrong point in time though, because the program would be canceled by ABC after the series fifth season failed to draw in viewers. In total, she appeared in 12 episodes of the iconic show but most people probably hardly remember her in it. It wasn’t exactly the grand slam exposure opportunity that she had hoped for but she pressed on regardless.

Roberts remained relatively unknown in the entertainment industry for the next several years. She starred in several adult films to help support herself during this time period but in 1982, she scored a role in The Beastmaster. The part was a major departure from the smutty roles that she was used to getting in all of those bottom of the barrel horror movies. Finally, she had broken free from the limiting world of low budget B films.

In 1983, she starred in the made-for-TV film Murder You, Murder Me. Tanya was then offered a lead role for a TV pilot but decided to sign on to 1984s overly ambitious fantasy flick, Sheena: Queen of the Jungle, instead which proved to be a box office disaster. Critics didn’t take kindly to that film either, but despite the set back, the following year proved to be one of the biggest of her career.

In 1985 she got the chance to be the Bond girl in A View TO Kill, although her acting was severely critiqued for being one-dimensional and shallow. What could have been the beginning of a thriving big-budget film career quickly fizzled out and she returned once again to appear in erotic thriller films like Body Slam in 1986 and Night Eyes in 1991.

Robert’s career has this recurring theme. Every time that she came close to finding the success that she always dreamed of, it always seemed to be just barely out of reach. Perhaps she was never destined to be an A-lister, or maybe it all boiled down to just being dealt a bunk hand, either way, she never let her failures consume her. At some point, she had to have known that she was never going to be a celebrated starlet like Meryl Streep or Julia Roberts but she kept pressing on – always giving every project that she took on her best. Perhaps, that’s the most admirable quality that Tanya Roberts possessed. She was unshakably determined throughout her entire career.

Taking a Break and That 70s Show

In the early 1990s, Tanya decided that she needed to take a brief break from the film industry. She needed to take a step back and take a breath. After spending a couple of years devoted to self-care and reflection she returned to the entertainment industry in 1996 starring in the video game The Pandora Detective and hosting the Cinemax series Hot Lines.

In 1998, her struggling acting career got another much-needed and appreciated boost when she was cast as Midge Pinciotti on That 79s Show. It was perhaps the most prolific role that she had in years but unfortunately, she would be forced to leave the show halfway through it’s run when her husband was diagnosed with a terminal illness in 2001. The show demanded too much of her time, and she knew that her place was by his side. Sadly, Barry Roberts passed away in 2006. Roberts would later return to That 70s Show in its later seasons as a guest star.

Following her husbands’ death, she went on to have small roles in shows like Off Centre in 2002, Filmore! In 2003, and Barbershop in 2005. She retired from acting in 2005 to focus on her relationship with her partner Lance.

Tanya’s Death

Yet again, as we already mentioned at the start of this video, her death was quite unexpected. Roberts was reportedly in good health and spires in the days and months leading up to her death. In her most recent posts on Instagram, she expressed optimism for the then-upcoming New Year. She wished her fans good health and happiness in the year to come and reminded everyone to wear a mask during the ongoing pandemic.

There were no warning signs that her flame was about to be snuffed out. By all accounts, it seemed as if Roberts had many years ahead of her, but such is life. Our time on this planet can be cut short at any given moment. Perhaps we should all strive to reflect a little bit more on the little things and life. Like Roberts always did, we should take the time to develop gratitude for what we have and the loved ones in our lives that care about us.

It’s heartbreaking that Tanya’s life was cut so short – especially right at the beginning of a New Year – but we’re pretty sure that she was proud of what she was able to accomplish while she was here.

Which role do you remember Tanya Robert’s from, Charlies Angels, James Bond, or That 70s Show? Let us know in the comments section below.

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