Tanya Roberts who died at 65 was already a television and movie star when she was cast as “Bond girl” Stacey Sutton opposite Roger Moore in A View to a Kill (1985). Moore was 58 at the time and looked somewhat squeaky as he climbed the Golden Gate Bridge during his last outing as James Bond while Roberts was 30 and had a great time commanding a fire engine during a chase through San Francisco. albeit with a little help from blue screen technology.
She was the second choice for the role after the film’s producers failed to secure Priscilla Presley. This hardly baffled Roberts who had already made a name for himself by putting himself in the shoes of another actor when she was cast in 1981 as the replacement for Shelley Hack in the fifth season of Charlie’s Angels the hit television series about a trio of men. Glamorous women crime fighters. “That’s the way every job is” he told talk show host Johnny Carson when asked about the show’s staffing changes. “There was someone before there will be someone after you.”
Her rate was $12000 per episode and was enthusiastically received by her co-star Cheryl Ladd who said “It has a lot of ‘street’ in it an edge that’s really fun to play with.” Roberts described herself as “the real New York … I say what I have in mind but I think I am sensitive.”
However he had joined a sinking ship. With only Jaclyn Smith remaining from the original trio the series was canceled a year after Roberts’ addition though she remained optimistic about the entire experience. “It gave me my great opportunity. The only difficult part was getting into a situation where the other two girls were fed up with the show and wanted out and I was really excited. “
She was born Victoria Leigh Blum in the Bronx New York to Irish Jewish parents. “I look like a real Irishman but I have a Jewish brain” said Roberts who was sometimes called Tanya Leigh. His mother was Dorothy (née Smith) his father Oscar Blum a seller of pens. She described herself as a “wild and rebellious girl” and told People magazine In 1981 she dropped out of school at age 15 married “a guy” and “hitchhiked until his mother annulled him.”
A year later he met Barry Roberts a psychology student and later a television screenwriter at a movie line in New York; she proposed to him at a subwstation, andand they remained married until her death in 2006. Her older sister Barbara also briefly an actress married the psychedelic guru. TimotLaraary in 1978.
Roberts worked as a dance teacher and model. She studied acting with Uta Hagen and Lee Strasberg and appeared in commercials and off-Broadway theater. After moving to Los Angeles in 1977 he was introduced to a few film roles including The Private Files of J Edgar Hoover (1977) and JamBackack’s thriller Fingers (1978) as well as some unpromising television pilots.
It wasn’t until he came out on the other side of Charlie’s Angels that he briefly established himself in film with two roles in the fantasy genre. First was The Beastmaster (1982). “It is good against evil” he said said “And he’s a man who can communicate with animals and animals help him fight all these bad guys right?” He agreed to a Playboy nuphoto shootoot as publicity (“The images are full-length shots of tigers no crap”) and played the supporting role in the film for its star Marc Singer.
She received star fame in Sheena: Queen of the Jungle (1984) at which point it was her turn to talk to animals at least telepathically. Abandoned in the jungle as a child and raised by African warriors Sheena rode a zebra which was clearly a horse painted in black and white. What she really wanted she explained in 1984 it was “a commercial success. If you are in a hit suddenly you are a star whether you did well or not. “
But Sheena was not. Janet Maslin in the New York Times said of Roberts: “He’s in great shape. That unfortunately is the best that can be said for her performance. “Pauline Kael in the New Yorker noted that” she seems to be afraid to relax and come back to life “but praised her for having” the face of a dancer a prodigious lean muscular form and a staring comic dullness. “He stares into space with eyes so exquisitely blank as if they had been set with pale blue chalk. He is a walking and talking icon and fun to watch.”
Roberts had feared that A View to a Kill his next film might be a curse. “I thought ‘Oh my God all the girls who have been in a Bond movie never have afterwardfterwards.’ My agent said ‘Do it do it!’ ”. However his fears turnedwell-foundedell founded and his film work thereafter was limited to erotic thrillers with interchangeable titles: Night Eyes (1990) Legal Tender (1991) Sins of Desire (1993).
It was true that she could appear credulous and was prone to being outspoken and chauvinistic teased. Carson for example covered an awkward silence in his on-screen interview by asking: “Do you want to go to bed?”
Fortunately she got a chance to shine when she was cast in 1998 as a regular on the comedy That 70s Show. Her conscientious portrayal as Midge Pinciotti slow to accept but increasingly dissatisfied with her life as a homemaker proved that she was no fool herself.
Roberts retired from acting to care for Barry when he was terminally ill. He is survived by his later partner Lance O’Brien and his sister.
• Tanya Roberts (Victoria Leigh Blum) actress born October 15 1955; died on January 4 2021
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism