ON Sunday reports emerged that Tanya Roberts, former Bond girl and one-time Charlie’s Angel, had died in Los Angeles, only for her agent to reveal that this was not the case a day later.

How is this possible?

Mistaken information, it seems.

The 65-year-old actor reportedly collapsed on Christmas Eve while walking her dogs. She was taken to Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles and her publicist Mike Pingel reported her death after receiving information from her husband, Lance O’Brien, who had told him that he held his wife and she “seemed for him to slip away,” Pingel said.

This, however, turned out to be inaccurate. On Monday morning, Pingel revealed that Roberts was in fact still alive but in a serious condition.

It was subsequently reported that Ms Roberts passed away later that day.

Presumably, the premature report of her death had already being shared?

Yes, it had been reported on the US website TMZ. Multiple news outlets then reported the same story, only for Mr Pingel, speaking to a news agency, to retract it a day later.

Should I recognise Ms Roberts?

Born Victoria Leigh Blum in 1955, she got her break when she joined the cast of the TV series Charlie’s Angels, replacing Shelley Hack and appearing alongside original Angel Jaclyn Smith and Cheryl Ladd.

After roles in fantasy films such as Beastmaster and Sheena, she was cast in the 1985 James Bond movie A View to a Kill.

More recently, she had a regular role in the late-1990s US sitcom That ’70s Show.

This can’t be the first time this has happened, can it?

Not at all. Social media is particularly guilty of spreading false rumours of celebrity deaths, but the mainstream media have also been guilty. American TV cable channel MSNBC had to apologise after reporting that Bob Dylan had died in 2019.

In 1998, the Associated Press website mistakenly ran an obituary of Bob Hope, five years before he died.

A year later, on April 29, 1999, the Daily Telegraph ran an obituary of the former Fairport Convention violinist and singer Dave Swarbrick. In fact, Swarbrick was at the time recovering from a serious illness at a hospital in Coventry.

"It's not the first time I've died in Coventry," Swarbrick said at the time.

Reports of his death were greatly exaggerated, then?

Indeed. That famous saying is in fact a bit of a misquote. In a statement he sent to the New York Journal in 1897, the author Mark Twain, responding to reports from London that he was seriously ill or dead, wrote that “the report of my death was an exaggeration.”

It is thought that it was the result of a case of mistaken identity. Twain, aka, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, had a cousin, James Ross Clemens, who was seriously ill in London at the time. Some reports seem to have confused the two men.