Even though That '70s Show aired its final episode all the way back in 2006, it's still heralded as one of the most popular sitcoms. Fans were devastated when the show was pulled from Netflix in September 2020, though its legacy lives on in the sequel series That '90s Show from Netflix.
While many of the actors and actresses from the show moved on to continue their careers after the show's final season, That '70s Show marked the end of Tanya Roberts's acting career. She left the show after its third season, only making occasional appearances after her official departure. But why did Tanya leave That '70s Show in 2001?
Why did Tanya Roberts leave 'That '70s Show'?
The former James Bond actress was cast in the supporting role of Midge Pinciotti, Donna's mother, in the hit Fox sitcom. Midge's character was often described as "dim-witted" — a mother who was lacking in common sense but unsatisfied with her life as a housewife.
On-screen, Midge and Donna's father, Bob, begin going through marital issues. After constantly fighting, the pair decide to separate. While they attempt to reconcile, Midge ultimately makes her exit from the show by the end of Season 3.
In the show, she tells her ex-husband and daughter she's moving to California to pursue a singing and acting career, thus removing her from the show's primary setting in Wisconsin.
This was how the show's producers temporarily wrote off Midge's character as Tanya needed to take a step back from the show for personal reasons. Tanya's husband, Barry Roberts, was terminally ill with encephalitis, an inflammation that occurs in the brain tissue.
Tanya and Barry had been married for almost 30 years when she departed That '70s Show in 2001. They met in line for a movie in New York City. "Barry and I are best pals," Tanya said of her husband in an interview with Mike Pingel. "We're both physical people and have similar interests."
Tanya Roberts retired from acting in 2005.
That '70s Show was one of Tanya's last appearances on camera, as the actress decided to retire from film and television in 2005. At the time, Barry was still battling his illness, and the actress was spending increasingly more time taking care of him.
Before retiring, Tanya made a few appearances in That '70s Show, reprising her role for a few episodes in 2004. She also appeared as Rebecca in an episode of Eve and as Ellie Palmer in Barbershop before she left the industry for good.
Barry passed away in 2006 due to complications from his encephalitis. Since his death, Tanya had been living with her partner, Lance O'Brien, and their two dogs in Hollywood Hills, Calif. Despite this seemingly normal life, Tanya reportedly still talked with fans and interacted with those who were fond of her work.
Will Tanya Roberts appear as Midge in 'That '90s Show'?
Sadly, Tanya Roberts will not appear as Midge in That '90s Show. According to NBC News, Tanya reportedly collapsed on Christmas Eve 2020 and was on a ventilator at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. On Jan. 5, 2021, her rep, Mike Pingel, and her partner Lance O'Brien, released a statement announcing she had died of sepsis from a urinary tract infection. She was 65.