I spoke to a friend of Ms. Collins today and finally confirmed the details of her passing. This is what I posted at EInsiders today:
ROBERTA COLLINS Died Aug. 16, 2008
Life is tough. Grief can be overwhelming. Janis Joplin once said "On stage I make love to twenty five thousand people; and then I go home alone." Fame is fleeting. The love and adoration of fans may fill some void, but we are all alone at the end of the day. Sometimes it becomes more than we can bear. Roberta Collins lost her son Michael to suicide. While it is not known whether Roberta Collins' death was an accident or suicide, my sources state that she took too many pills the day she died. Ms. Collins sank into depression following the death of her son. She was married to actor Paul Harper (The Wild Bunch). On the last day of her life, Bobbie Collins lay in bed. Her husband checked on her in the morning and at lunch time. She refused any food. She was gone by 4 that afternoon.
Roberta Collins was a free spirit. She brought joy to others through her work and in her personal life. She was a believer in holistic healing and tried to help others through those beliefs. Most of us didn't know Roberta Collins. We remember her fondly from her many cult films from the 1970s. She was a contemporary of Rainbeaux Smith, Candice Rialson, Claudia Jennings. While I enjoyed Roberta Collins' work, Rainbeaux Smith was the girl for me (in a movie fantasy way I'm sure you understand.) Roberta Collins appeared in 30 films and TV shows during her career. She remains in the hearts of drive-in movie fans for a half-dozen cult classics she appeared in during the 1970s.
In 1971, Roberta Collins co-starred with Pam Grier in her first of three Women in Prison films: Jack Hill's "The Big Doll House." Who can forget their famous, muddy cat-fight! That same year, she re-teamed with Ms. Grier in the sequel "Women in Cages." Both films were US/Philippine co-productions. Ms. Collin's third Women in Prison film was Jonathan Demme's fun "Caged Heat." She co-starred with Barbara Steele, Erica Gavin, Juanita Brown and Rainbeaux Smith. The 1974 film is the best of the three films.
Her best known role is probably as Matilda the Hun in Roger Corman's gonzo cult-classic "Death Race 2000." She played a Nazi vixen paired up with Fred Grandy in the tale of a cross country race where the more people you kill, the more points you score. One of her most touching roles was as Clara, the doomed prostitute in Tobe Hooper's under-rated horror classic "Eaten Alive." She played one of those characters you know is going to end up in a very bad place, but you want her to make it. She doesn't. Another early drive-in classic from the 70s: "The Unholy Rollers." The Roller Derby movie belongs to its star, the late Claudia Jennings. Roberta Collins delivers the film's second best performance as a beautiful, but badass teammate.
Roberta Collins died some TV and made a few movies during the 1980s before leaving the film industry. Her TV credits include "Adam 12," "The Night Stalker," "BJ and the Bear" and Glenn Ford's great series "Cade's County." Ms. Collins would later work as one of the health care providers for Glenn Ford toward the end of his life. Ms. Collins other film credits include "Sweet Kill" with Tab Hunter, "Death Wish 2," "School Spirit" and the two "Hardbodies" movies.
It has taken some time to find and talk to my sources. Ironically news of Ms. Collins' passing surfaced on August 28, my daughter Christy's birthday. Tomorrow (Sept. 14) is the fourth anniversary of Christy's ATV accident. When Christy lay in a coma the doctors told me on several occasions that she wouldn't live through the night. I was blessed that I didn't lose my daughter. However the experience gave me some insight into what it would be like to lose a child. As bad as my experience was I know that it pales in comparison to what Bobbie Collins went through. I can't say what I would have done had Christy died. I hope I never have to find out the answer to that question. I just pray that Ms. Collins finds some peace from the pain she suffered due to the loss of her son Michael.