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The year 2021 is not even a week old and we may already have a contender for the most bizarre story of the year.
Actress Tanya Roberts, a former Bond girl who also starred in That ’70s Show, was briefly declared back among the living on Monday, even though her publicist, Mike Pingel, informed the media of her death.
And, apparently, Roberts’ longtime boyfriend learned of this shocking development while being interviewed on camera by Inside Edition.
The Associated Press reported on Monday that Pingel said earlier in the day that Roberts collapsed in her home on Christmas Eve and “was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she was believed to have died on Sunday.”
The AP said Pingel would later say the actress, who was hospitalized after falling at her home, was still alive but was in poor condition.
Pingel said Roberts’ partner, Lance O’Brien, told him that he held her as she “seemed, for him, to slip away.”
O’Brien was not able to see Roberts in the hospital because of COVID-19 restrictions, although the actress does not have the virus, but was allowed to visit on Sunday for a last goodbye, according to the publicist.
“When she saw me and I was there, I saw her eyes open up. I felt good. I said, ‘Hey, her eyes are opening. Her eyes are opening.’” They told me “that’s just a reflex,” O’Brien said, according to Inside Edition, adding that hospital staff told him Roberts “had no hope to live.”
And then, during the interview, O’Brien learns that she is not dead.
“Now, you are telling me she’s alive?” O’Brien is seen asking, after taking a call while on camera. “Oh thank the Lord. Thank God!”
“The hospital is telling me she is alive. They’re calling me from the ICU team,” O’Brien said, as he tearfully expressed his happiness.
He would later tell The Sun that Roberts’ condition was very “dire,” saying she was suffering from liver and kidney failure, and that doctors do not give her long to live.
“Her kidneys are so far-gone, her liver is so far-gone, her gall bladder is so far-gone,” O’Brien said. “She also has a terrible blood infection. The doctors say it started out with a urinary tract infection.”
“The doctors say there’s no way she’s going to be the same,” he added. “She always told me she didn’t want to be an invalid. She said if it got to this stage, end it for me.”
Pingel told People magazine, “Currently, it’s not looking good. It’s very dire. Hold her in your prayers.”
*Update: After publishing the story, Fox News reported that Roberts’ boyfriend said early Tuesday — for the second time — that the actress died later Monday night.
Fox News reported:
In a follow-up conversation Tuesday, O’Brien told Fox News: “The last time I said something it got blown out of proportion. The hospital called and told me around 9:30 [PT] that she had passed. I was asleep, they woke me up, and I just cried myself back to sleep.”
O’Brien added that he is “devastated” about what he’s going to do without her.
Here’s a quick sampling of the responses to the original story from Twitter, to include tweets from actor Ashton Kutcher informing others that Roberts was NOT dead:
My favorite new trend of 2021 is Ashton Kutcher telling his THAT 70s SHOW co-stars that Tanya Roberts is still alive. pic.twitter.com/9VoHbeuGYX
— Josh Horowitz (@joshuahorowitz) January 5, 2021
2021 is clearly going to out-weird us all https://t.co/vG6JmmhrFB
— Sarah Weinman (@sarahw) January 4, 2021
I liked Tanya Roberts and I was sorry to hear the report of her death, and happy to hear that it wasn’t true. I hope not being dead happens to me, too.
— Jim Beaver (@jumblejim) January 5, 2021
— Harry Wallop (@hwallop) January 5, 2021
Topher, have I got some news for you!
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) January 4, 2021
First item on Tanya Roberts’ to-do list: Get a new publicist.
— Robert Feder (@RobertFeder) January 5, 2021
— Micah Grant XXL (@MicahXxl) January 5, 2021
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