Tanya Roberts, who died at the age of 65, was already a movie and TV star when she was cast in A View to a Kill as “Bond girl” Stacy Sutton alongside Roger Moore (1985).
At the moment, Moore was 58 and looked a little creaky as he ascended the Golden Gate Bridge as James Bond during his last trip, while Roberts was 30 and commanded a fire truck during a chase through San Francisco during his lifetime, although with a little support from bluescreen technology.
After the movie’s producers were unable to sign Priscilla Presley, she was the second option for the part. When she was cast in 1981 to replace Shelley Hack in the fifth season of Charlie’s Angels, the hit television series featuring a trio of glamorous female crime fighters, Roberts had already made a name for herself. “It’s like that with any job,” she told talk show host Johnny Carson when he questioned about the series’ personnel changes. “There was someone before, there will be someone after you.”
“She’s got a lot of ‘street’ in her, an edge that’s really fun to play with.”She has a lot of ‘street’ in her, an edge that’s really fun to play with.”real New York … I say what’s on my mind, but I think I’m sensitive.”real New York… I’m saying what’s on my mind, but I think I’m sensitive.
However, she had entered a sinking ship. With only Jaclyn Smith left of the original trio, within a year of Roberts joining, the series was cancelled, although she was very optimistic about the whole experience. “It gave me my big break. The only hard part was getting into a situation where the other two girls were sick of the show and wanted out, and I was totally excited.”
She was born Victoria Leigh Blum to Irish Jewish parents in the Bronx, New York. “I look really Irish, but I have a Jewish brain,” Roberts said, occasionally calling herself Tanya Leigh. Dorothy (née Smith) was her mother, and Oscar Blum, her father, was a pen salesman.
She told People magazine in 1981, describing herself as a “wild, rebellious kid,” that she dropped out of school at 15, married “some guy” and “hitchhiked everywhere until his mother got the marriage annulled.”
A year later, in a movie theater line in New York, she met Barry Roberts, a psychology student who later became a television writer; she proposed to him in a subway station, and they remained married until his death in 2006. In 1978, her older sister Barbara, also briefly an actress, married Timothy Leary, a psychedelic guru.
As a dance teacher and as a model, Roberts worked.
She studied acting with Uta Hagen and Lee Strasberg and performed at the Off-Off-Broadway Theater and in advertisements.
She landed a variety of film roles after moving to Los Angeles in 1977, including The Private Files of J Edgar Hoover (1977) and the thriller Fingers (1978) by James Toback, as well as a few unpromising TV pilots.
She briefly developed herself in cinema with two roles in the fantasy genre only after leaving Charlie’s Angels. The first one, The Beastmaster, was (1982). “It’s about good versus evil,” she said, “and it’s about a guy who’s able to communicate with animals, and the animals help him fight all the bad guys, right?” She agreed to advertise a nude photo shoot in Playboy (“The pictures are full-body shots, draped over tigers, not trashy at all”) and played Marc Singer’s second fiddle in the movie.
In Sheena: Queen of the Jungle (1984), in which she was able to speak to animals, at least telepathically, she played the lead role.
Abandoned as a child in the jungle and adopted by African warriors, Sheena rode a zebra that was obviously a black and white painted horse. What she really wanted, she explained in 1984, was “a commercial success.
You’re a star all of a sudden when you’re in a hit, whether you’ve acted well or not.
But it wasn’t Sheena. In the New York Times, Janet Maslin said of Roberts, “She’s in very good shape. I’m afraid that’s the best you can say about her performance.” In the New Yorker, Pauline Kael noted that she “seems afraid to loosen up and come alive,” but praised her for having “a ballerina’s face, an amazingly lean, muscular shape, and a staring, comical opacity.”
With eyes as exquisitely blank as though they had been drawn over with light blue chalk, she stares into space.
She’s an icon for walking, chatting, and she’s fun to watch.’
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