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Actress Tanya Roberts dies at 65 not long after false death announcement

Tanya Roberts in 1980
Actress Tanya Roberts, pictured in 1980, died Monday in Los Angeles.
(Associated Press)

Tanya Roberts, known for roles in “That ‘70s Show,” “Charlie’s Angels” and the James Bond franchise, has died at age 65 after collapsing at her home on Christmas Eve.

The actress and model died Monday night at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, her longtime representative, Mike Pingel, confirmed “with a heavy heart” Tuesday afternoon to The Times. According to Pingel, the cause of death was a urinary tract infection, which spread to Roberts‘ kidney, gallbladder, liver and finally her bloodstream.

In 1985, Roberts starred as geologist and Bond girl Stacey Sutton opposite Roger Moore in “A View to a Kill,” before a new generation recognized her as Midge Pinciotti — the mother of Laura Prepon’s Donna — in the hit sitcom “That ’70s Show.”

Her other credits included adventure flicks “The Beastmaster” and “Hearts and Armour,” as well as the hit TV series “Charlie’s Angels,” which saw Roberts replace Shelley Hack as Angel Julie Rogers alongside Jaclyn Smith’s Kelly Garrett and Cheryl Ladd’s Kris Munroe. In 1984, she played the title character in John Guillermin’s “Sheena,” a female take on the Tarzan myth adapted from comic books of the same name.

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After falsely reporting that Roberts had died earlier on Monday, Pingel corrected the mistake, confirming to the Associated Press that she was alive and in “dire” condition as of late Monday morning.

Tanya Roberts starred as Kiri in the 1982 film "The Beastmaster."
(Wally Fong / Associated Press)

The premature death announcement resulted from a conversation between Pingel and Roberts’ partner, Lance O’Brien, who told the former that Roberts seemed to “slip away” as he held her in the hospital Sunday. Multiple media outlets, including The Times, published the Associated Press’ obituary Monday.

Pingel added that O’Brien — who had previously been unable to visit Roberts in the hospital because of COVID-19 protocols — was allowed to see her Sunday and say goodbye.

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“She was my soulmate, she was my best friend,” a tearful O’Brien — who was “emotionally shocked because I was expecting her to come home” — told the Associated Press on Tuesday. “We haven’t been apart for two days.”

Before Monday’s death announcement proved inaccurate, multiple “That ’70s Show” cast members saluted Roberts on social media. Ashton Kutcher, a.k.a. Michael Kelso, was among those who later informed his former costars that Roberts was still alive as of Monday morning.

“Tanya had a big deep hearty laugh. She was all instinct and beauty,” Debra Jo Rupp, who portrayed Kitty Forman, tweeted Monday. “In the first season of 70’s we had a scene in the kitchen, drinking cocktails and laughing together. She laughed, spit her drink in my face, apologized profusely and did it 3 more times. I loved her. RIP beauty.”

“I was so sad to hear that Tanya Roberts has passed away,” wrote Topher Grace, who played Eric Forman. “She was a Bond girl, one of Charlie’s Angels, and truly a delightful person to work with. I had never acted before and, to be honest, a little nervous around her. But she couldn’t have been kinder. We’ll miss you Midge.”

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Among others who reacted to Roberts’ death were Pingel and Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. Actress Britt Ekland — who appeared alongside Moore’s Bond in “The Man With the Golden Gun” — also eulogized Roberts, tweeting, “Once a Bond Girl always a Bond Girl!”

“We are saddened to hear of the passing of Tanya,” Wilson and Broccoli wrote in a statement. “She was a very lovely person.”

“One of my favorite memories with Tanya was driving in the car and Duran Duran’s ‘A View to a Kill’ theme song came on the radio — we both sang along,” Pingel said Monday. “Priceless.”

The family of Roberts, who was also a staunch animal-rights activist, asks that donations be made in her honor to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Family members are organizing an online memorial.


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