Victoria Leigh Blum – better known as Tanya Roberts (born on October 15, 1954) is an American actress best known for her roles in Charlie’s Angels, The Beastmaster, A View to a Kill, Sheena and That ’70s Show.
Reportedly 5′ 8″ (1.73 m) tall and with measurements of 36-21-34, Roberts was regarded as one of Hollywood’s most popular sex symbols during the early 1980s.
Roberts grew up in the Bronx, New York City. The daughter of an Irish American pen seller and a Jewish American woman, her parents divorced before she reached high school. Her sister, actress Barbara Chase, was married to Timothy Leary from 1978 to 1992.
At age 15, she abandoned her studies to get married and lived for a while hitch-hiking across the United States until her mother-in-law annulled the union. Roberts continued to live in New York City, modelling and working as a dance teacher with Arthur Murray.
After meeting psychology student Barry Roberts while waiting in line for a movie, 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.
In 1980, Roberts was chosen among 2,000 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 7, 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 (October 1982).
In 1983, Roberts filmed the little-known adventure Paladini-storia d’armi e d’amori (Guns and Love Story) in Italy. She also played the role of “Velda”, a buxom secretary to private detective Mike Hammer (played by Stacy Keach) in Murder Me, Murder You. This made-for-TV movie was the first of two pilots that kicked off the syndicated television series Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer. Roberts declined to continue the role in the Mike Hammer series – where she was replaced by Lindsay Bloom – in order to film her next project, Sheena: Queen of the Jungle (by John Guillermin). The 1984 film was based on a character adapted from a Will Eisner’s comic book. Dressed in scantily clad costumes, Sheena also introduced a new blonde hairstyle that Roberts would keep for the rest of her career. The movie was a box office disaster and was mauled by the critics. Her subsequent appearance as Bond girl Stacey Sutton in A View to a Kill was similarly missable.