Tanya Roberts grew up in the New York City's Bronx
neighborhood. The daughter of an Irish American pen seller and a
Jewish American woman, her parents divorced before she reached
At age 15 Tanya Roberts abandoned her studies to get married and lived for a while as hitchhiker, traveling across the United States until her mother-in-law annulled the union. Tanya continued to live in New York City, modelling and working as a dance teacher with Arthur Murray.
After meeting psychology student Barry Roberts in a movie line, she soon married again, having proposed to him in a subway station. While Barry started a career as a screenwriter, Tanya began to study at the Actors' Studio with Lee Strasberg and Uta Hagen.
Starting out, Tanya Roberts did several television commercials for Ultra Brite, Clairol and Cool Ray sunglasses and played serious roles in the off-Broadway productions Picnic and Antigone. She also supported herself as an Arthur Murray dance instructor. Her film debut was the thriller Forced Entry (1975, Jim Sotos) together with Nancy Allen. This was followed by the comedy The Yum-Yum Girls (1976, Narry Rosen).
In 1977, while her husband was securing his own screenwriting career, the couple moved to Hollywood to continue working there.
In 1978 Tanya filmed the drama Fingers (by James Toback) co-starring Harvey Keitel, Tisa Farrow, Jim Brown and Danny Aiello. A role in the 1979 cult-movie Tourist Trap (by David Schmoeller) with Chuck Connors followed. She also appeared in the movies Racket (1979, by David Winters) with Bjron Borg, and California Dreaming (1979, by John Hancock).
Roberts also featured in several television pilots that were never picked up: Preasure Cove, the comedy Zuma Beach (1978, by Lee H. Katzin, co-written by Halloween director John Carpenter) and Waikiki (1980).
In 1980, Tanya Roberts was chosen among other 2000 candidates to replace Shelley Hack in Charlie's Angels in what later turned out to be the last season of the series. In the show, Roberts interpreted her character Julie Rogers as a streetwise fighter who used her fists more than her gun.
After this her popularity exploded. She was the cover of People magazine (September 9, 1981) and was offered more ambitious projects, though it could be argued that this was due to her good looks rather than her acting talent.
In 1982 she played Kiri in the sword and sorcery movie The Beastmaster (by Don Coscarelli, creator of the Phantasm franchise) with Marc Singer. She also appeared in Playboy to help promote the movie, appearing on that issue's cover (November 1982).
In 1983 Tanya Roberts filmed the little-known adventure Paladini-storia d'armi e d'amori (Guns and Love Story) in Italy. She also appeared in an episode of Murder Me, Murder You (by Gary Nelson) as Velda, the secretary of the classic detective Mike Hammer (Stacy Keach). But she declined to stay on in the series (where she was replaced by Lindsay Bloom) in order to film her next film, 1984's Sheena: Queen of the Jungle (by John Guillermin), based on a character adapted from a Will Eisner's comic. Dressed in scantily clad costumes, Sheena also introduced a new blonde hair style that Roberts would keep for the rest of her career. The movie, however was a box office disaster and was mauled by the critics.
The next year Tanya Roberts appeared as a Bond girl the James Bond film A View to a Kill (1985, by John Glen) alongside Roger Moore as the superspy. Roberts played Stacey Sutton, the daughter of an oil baron, opposing the evil plans of villain Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) to destroy Silicon Valley. Although the film was Moore's last turn at playing Bond, the film was only marginally successful and is thought by fans to be one of the lesser films in the series.
After a brief break Roberts appeared in Body Slam (1987, by Hal Needham), an action movie set in the professional wrestling world. Roberts closed out the decade with Purgatory (1989, by Ami Artzi), film about the life of imprisoned women.
By 1990 satisfying roles began to dry up and Roberts started to film erotic thrillers for cable television, often competing with then-current star of the genre Shannon Tweed.
In Night Eyes (1990, by Jag Mundhra) she was zealously watched over by her husband, but she ends up having an affair with the detective (Andrew Stevens) who was following her. Her 1991 film Inner Sanctum (by Fred Olen Ray) became one of the biggest hits of the genre and was successful on video rental shelves. In 1992 she played Kay Egan in Sins of Desire (by Jim Wynorsky).
Roberts also appeared in the Hot Line television series (1994) and the video game The Pandora Directive (1996).
In 1998 Tanya Roberts had a career resurgence by taking on the role of Midge Pinciotti on That 70s Show until 2001 in which she left. She guest starred for a few episodes after that, although the reasons for her sudden departure in 2001 were never clarified.
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