For her distraught boyfriend it was a moment of agony, followed by utter disbelief — and then joy.
Lance O’Brien was midway through a TV interview about the sudden death of his longtime girlfriend, former Charlie’s Angel and Bond Girl Tanya Roberts, when he broke off to take an urgent call.
It was from the Los Angeles hospital where only a day earlier he said he had taken the actress in his arms for the last time.
‘As I held her in her last moments, she opened her eyes,’ he had recounted earlier. ‘Tanya had the most beautiful eyes.’ And then she slipped away, he added tearfully.
Only she hadn’t — as that extraordinary telephone exchange revealed when it was broadcast on Monday by the CBS show Inside Edition, which had been interviewing Mr O’Brien at the time via Zoom.
Lance O’Brien was midway through a TV interview about the sudden death of his longtime girlfriend, former Charlie’s Angel and Bond Girl Tanya Roberts, when he broke off to take an urgent call (pictured)
‘Now you’re telling me that she’s alive?’ Mr O’Brien is heard asking the caller, his voice rising in shock. ‘Thank the Lord, thank God!’ The show’s presenter then tries to find out what is happening.
‘The hospital’s telling me she’s alive . . . they’re calling me from the ICU,’ Mr O’Brien said, before breaking down. ‘I’m so happy,’ he sobs.
His relief, however, was to prove sadly short-lived. For the 65-year-old actress did indeed pass away hours later on Monday night after developing unexplained liver and kidney problems.
The bizarre final days of the star — whose death, then life and then death again had her fans and the world’s media scrambling to keep up — started on Christmas Eve when she returned to their Hollywood Hills home from walking their dogs complaining of feeling unwell.
Tanya Roberts is pictured in the 1984 movie Sheena. She posed naked for Playboy in 1982 and established herself as the go-to star for camp fantasy films with Sheena, Queen Of The Jungle, an expensive female Tarzan flop in 1984
Mr O’Brien (pictured), Tanya’s partner of 15 years, spoke to the media outside his home in LA yesterday. Roberts, 65, had been mistakenly reported dead on Sunday by her publicist but was still found to be alive in a bizarre chain of events
In the early hours of Christmas Day, her boyfriend found her collapsed in their bathroom where she told him she had lost control of her limbs. She was rushed into intensive care and put on a ventilator after developing breathing problems, although she had tested negative for Covid-19.
Mr O’Brien said, at first, hospital officials had reassured him she’d be home within days, only to phone on Sunday to say she was fading fast and not expected to live.
Covid restrictions prevented him from visiting her but, now she was close to death, the couple were reunited at her bedside.
He reportedly told Ms Robert’s publicist she ‘opened her eyes and tried to grab on to him, but her eyes closed and she faded’ and ‘she seemed for [Lance] to slip away’.
‘She died in my arms,’ he added before phoning Ms Roberts’ family while the publicist, Mike Pingel, issued an official statement announcing the actress’s passing and the tributes started rolling in.
The American actress starred as Stacey Sutton in the James Bond film ‘A View To A Kill’ in 1984
Born Victoria Leigh Blum in 1955 and the daughter of a Manhattan fountain pen salesman, Roberts (pictured) said she was a ‘wild and crazy teenager’ who ran around with street gangs and hitchhiked across the U.S .in her teens
Fellow Bond girl Britt Ekland, who starred in the The Man With The Golden Gun in 1974, wrote on Twitter: ‘RIP Tanya Roberts, once a Bond Girl always a Bond Girl!’
It seems, however, that when the devastated Lance O’Brien left the Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre on Sunday, he did so without checking with clinical staff that his lover had indeed passed away.
In a hospital struggling to cope with an influx of coronavirus victims there were — according to Mr O’Brien — few staff to be seen.
It was a distressing and farcical turn of events by any measure and one that Roberts, who appeared alongside Roger Moore in A View To A Kill, his final turn as 007 in 1985, would no doubt have recoiled from.
She once admitted to her agent that she feared that playing a Bond Girl was a curse that haunted every actress’s career.
Her turn as the husky-voiced, piercingly-blue-eyed blonde geologist Stacey Sutton certainly returned to haunt her as reports of her premature death did the rounds on social media.
Sadly, as the mystery deepened, Mr O’Brien confirmed yesterday that the hospital had rung him a second time, this time on Monday night, to say she had now died.
The exact cause of her death remains unexplained and it has left thousands of fans lamenting her passing. Roberts was a popular Hollywood pin-up of the early 1980s, attracting a male fan club that went far beyond 007.
She continued to interact cheerfully with her devoted admirers online during the virus lockdown, and insiders say she had had no health problems in the weeks leading up to her hospital admission.
Born Victoria Leigh Blum in 1955 and the daughter of a Manhattan fountain pen salesman, Roberts said she was a ‘wild and crazy teenager’ who ran around with street gangs and hitchhiked across the U.S .in her teens.
She paid her way through drama school by modelling for Clairol and Ultra Brite toothpaste, meeting her future husband, screenwriter Barry Roberts, as they queued for the cinema.
A few weeks later, she got down on one knee and proposed to him in a New York subway station.
Their marriage hit a rough patch in the early 1980s when she was reportedly romantically linked with film producer Dodi Fayed —later the Princess of Wales’s lover who was killed in the car crash 1997 which claimed Diana’s life.
But she and her husband were still together when he died in 2006 — two years after she’d given up acting to nurse him through a terminal illness.
Roberts’ acting career took off after she beat 2,000 other aspiring stars to be chosen as the third Charlie’s Angel in 1980, alongside Jaclyn Smith and Cheryl Ladd.
She earned a reputation as hard working but somewhat outspoken, shocking her co-stars with her liberal profanities.
She posed naked for Playboy in 1982 and established herself as the go-to star for camp fantasy films with Sheena, Queen Of The Jungle, an expensive female Tarzan flop in 1984.
Even so, she had qualms about becoming a Bond Girl the following year, fearing she would forever be typecast as a ‘glamorous, dumb blonde’.
‘I said to my agent: “No one ever works after they get a Bond movie” and they said to me, “Are you kidding? Glenn Close would do it if she could,’ she recalled. Roger Moore had his own qualms about making A View To A Kill — at 58, he was 28 years older than Roberts and felt ‘only about 400 years too old for the part’. Discovering that he was older than his co-star’s mother didn’t help.
Just as Roberts used to hold up filming on Charlie’s Angels by insisting on redoing her make-up, she showed some prima donna tendencies during the Bond movie, insisting a boiler suit she had to wear for one scene be custom-made for her.
Moore got his revenge, ad-libbing: ‘Pity you couldn’t find one that fits.’ Roberts glared back at him in genuine annoyance and the shot stayed in the film.
Later, though, she came to view Bond as a blessing. ‘At the time, I didn’t know what I know now and, to be honest, who would turn that role down, really? Nobody would.’
And despite the strange circumstances of her passing, it is as that iconic and fabulously feisty Bond girl that she will be best remembered.