Saturday, September 13, 2008

Roberta Collins Update

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.


Anonymous said...

I knew Roberta and Michael from the
70's and 80's I lived across the street from them in w. hollywood and when my mother had some "personal" troubles I lived with them off and on from
1977-1986. Roberta was a great person and I thought you had mentioned that you wnated to know if Collins was her married name. It was. She was first married to Gunther Collins sometime in the mid to late 60's. This was Michaels father. Michael and I went to see him in 1984. Michale did not know his father until his mid to late teens and I dont have any idea of what became of him. I lost contact with both Michael and Roberta around 1991. I know that Michael was married and had at least one child.

please email me at:

Anonymous said...

I knew Michael Collins since 1984. He was like one of my brothers and we went through lots together in Venezuela, Madagascar and of course in LA. The last time I saw Michael was in 2006 we spent four days together catching up on the past. I also got the chance to spend time with his two beautiful girls. Michael was like my brother. I was with him when I first met my wife of now over twenty years and was because of him that I got the courage the call her the next day after first meeting her. It was together in the mines of Madagascar that we choose my sons name Daniel.
I just found out about Michael’s and Roberta’s death and am in shock. Michael was a great father and every chance he got would bring up his two girls. He loved them very much.
I will miss Michael and Roberta and know that they are now resting in peace and looking over all those who they love.
Michael Mehditash

Anonymous said...

I dated Michael when he was a Junior in high school. I remember when he got his first personalized license plates for his car. They were supposed to say "M GREAT" but they said "M GRAT." We had a good laugh over it.

John Strong said...

When I was a young actor actor in Hollywood I used to date the beautiful Roberta Collins. I mether the first week she came to Hollywood and have known her untill she passed. I am pleased to say she was an original. Her dream, like so many others before her, was to make it big. She wanted to be a star, but would not sell out and was a good mother to her son Mike. I was proud to have knownm loved and been a small part of her life. I also learned today that her husband, my friend Paul Harper passed away last week immediately after being recognized for his work with Ernie Borgnine at the premire screening of "The Wild Bunch." THese two poeple were simple, wonderful people who cared about others, each other and the entertainment industry. They were happy to be a part of it and will be deeply missed by us all. God bless you both.