In a statement issued Tuesday, Pingel stated that Roberts’s longtime partner, Lance O’Brien, had received a call from the hospital confirming her death late the previous night. The infection had spread to Roberts’s kidney, gallbladder, liver and bloodstream.
Widespread confusion over the status of Roberts’s health stemmed from Pingel confirming her death to members of the media on Sunday. He told The Washington Post on Monday — before her actual passing — that he had mistakenly announced it because of a “miscommunication” involving hospital staff and O’Brien.
“He was called to go because she was passing away, they thought, and so he went and saw her — that is how it happened,” Pingel said Monday. “The phone rang at 10 a.m. [Monday] morning, and it was the hospital saying that, yes, she was still alive and in the ICU, and she had not passed away."
Pingel added that O’Brien — Roberts’s partner of 18 years who had been “very distraught” — was the one who originally informed the publicist of her supposed death. The Associated Press wrote an obituary based on the information relayed by Pingel, who said Roberts had been admitted to Cedars-Sinai after collapsing in her home on Dec. 24. Earlier Monday, The Post published that article online, supplemented with additional biographical detail.
Roberts, the daughter of a fountain-pen salesman, was born Victoria Leigh Blum in the Bronx on Oct. 15, 1955. She modeled and landed minor stage roles in New York before making it to Hollywood in the late 1970s. She replaced Shelley Hack in the final season of the “Charlie’s Angels” television series and went on to appear in several fantasy adventure films.
Among Roberts’s most high-profile roles was geologist Stacey Sutton, love interest to Roger Moore’s James Bond in the 1985 film “A View to a Kill.” Starting in the late 1990s, she appeared on “That ’70s Show” as Midge Pinciotti, the mother of Laura Prepon’s character, Donna.
“That ’70s Show” actor Ashton Kutcher informed several co-stars before Roberts’s actual death on Monday that, despite initial reports, she was still alive: “yo bro she’s not dead,” he tweeted to Topher Grace, who, in mourning Roberts, remembered her as “delightful.”
“I had never acted before and, to be honest, a little nervous around her,” Grace had written. “But she couldn’t have been kinder. We’ll miss you Midge.”
This story has been updated.