Brassy’n’beautiful blonde Roberta Collins was a terrific, dynamic and scene-stealing delight who greatly enlivened a bunch of choice down’n’dirty 1970s drive-in exploitation pictures with her earthy good humor, boundless vitality, superior acting ability, strong, forceful personality and smoldering sex appeal. Born on November 17, 1944, the tall, leggy, shapely and radiant Roberta first began acting in the late 1960s. Collins made a smashing impression as Alcott, a fiery’n’feisty prison inmate in Jack Hill’s chicks-in-chains classic The Big Doll House (1971). Roberta was likewise fantastic as Belle, a bawdy, jovial, kittenish prison inmate in Jonathan Demme’s marvelous tongue-in-cheek gem Caged Heat (1974) and hilarious as champion race car driver Matilda the Hun in the uproariously tasteless sci-fi black comedy hoot Death Race 2000 (1975). Other noteworthy parts include one of Claudia Jennings’ bitter rivals in The Unholy Rollers (1972), Jean Harlow in the odd Train Ride to Hollywood (1975), Jim Brown’s secretary in the outrageous blaxploitation riot Three the Hard Way (1974), a forlorn wayward prostitute in Tobe Hooper’s excellent Eaten Alive (1976), a klutzy student driver in the hugely enjoyable car chase romp Speedtrap (1977), and a neurotic egocentric actress in Matt Cimber’s outstanding The Witch Who Came from the Sea (1976). Alas, Roberta Collins’ career ran out of gas and came to an unfortunate close in the 1980s, as such latter lesser credits as Hardbodies (1984), School Spirit (1985), and Hardbodies 2 (1986) all sadly confirm. However, Collins did contribute a typically fine and impressive turn as a tough prison security chief in the gritty babes-behind-bars revenge item Vendetta (1986). She also did guest spots on the TV shows The Rockford Files (1974), Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974), Cade’s County (1971), and Adam-12 (1968). Roberta Collins died at age 63 from an accidental overdose of drugs and alcohol on August 16, 2008.
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