Tamara Dobson

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Tamara Dobson
Dobson in Cleopatra Jones (1973)
Tamara Janice Dobson

(1947-05-14)May 14, 1947[1]
DiedOctober 2, 2006(2006-10-02) (aged 59)[1][2]
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Resting placeWoodlawn Cemetery, Woodlawn, Maryland, U.S.
EducationMaryland Institute College of Art[2]
Years active1969–1987
Known forCleopatra Jones – Cleopatra Jones, Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold
Height6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)[3][4]

Tamara Janice Dobson (May 14, 1947 – October 2, 2006) was an American actress and fashion model. Beginning her career in modeling during the late 1960s, Dobson became best known for her title role as government agent Cleopatra "Cleo" Jones in the 1973 blaxploitation film Cleopatra Jones and its 1975 sequel Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold.[3][5]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Dobson was the second of four children born to Melvin and Evelyn Dobson (née Russell).[6] She attended Western High School, an academically demanding all-girls institution. Her father sold tickets for the Pennsylvania Railroad and her mother was a beautician. The family was poor, but Tamara had the full complement of piano, tap and ballet lessons. Her parents sent her on to the Baltimore Institute of Art, and after she got her degree, she went on to qualify as a beautician, like her mother.

Dobson started as a beautician. Dobson started her modeling career doing fashion shows at her school, Maryland Institute College of Art, where she also received her degree in fashion illustration.[4] While studying, Dobson was discovered in 1969 and began to film commercials and modeled.


After school, Dobson moved from Maryland to New York to model and act full-time. Dobson modeled for Jet Magazine sometime during her early modeling career.[6] Dobson eventually became a fashion model for Vogue Magazine, in addition to modeling for Essence magazine.[4][7] She was also in TV commercials for Revlon, Fabergé, and Chanel.[4] Dobson is also recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the "Tallest Leading Lady in Film", standing at 6 foot 2 inches.[3][4] Aside from Cleopatra Jones, Dobson had roles in other films such as Come Back, Charleston Blue; Chained Heat and Norman... Is That You?

Dobson also starred in episode 13 of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century as Doctor Delora Bayliss and in Season 2 of Jason of Star Command.

Work Discrimination[edit]

Dobson experienced racial discrimination during her time working on films. When interviewed by The New York Times, Dobson said,

“I like being a woman,” she goes on. “I have the kind of job I want to do. I have been discriminated against, but not because I'm a woman. It's because I am black. I'm used to people not wanting to be with me because I'm black. Before they see me as being female, they see me as being black. The stigma that's been placed on you because you're black gives you enough kill to get you through the woman thing. It makes you angry! Yes, It's much tougher being black than being woman.” [8]

Health and death[edit]

Dobson was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2000.[2][3] She died on October 2, 2006, at Keswick Multi-Care Center in Baltimore, Maryland,[3] of complications from pneumonia and multiple sclerosis, at age 59.[2][9][10] Dobson never married or had children.


Year Title Role Notes
1972 Come Back, Charleston Blue Uncredited[9]
1972 Fuzz Rochelle
1973 Cleopatra Jones Cleopatra "Cleo" Jones
1975 Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold
1976 Norman... Is That You? Audrey
1977 Murder at the World Series Lisa TV movie
1979 Jason of Star Command Samantha 12 episodes
1979 Buck Rogers in the 25th Century Delora Bayliss 1 episode
1983 Chained Heat Duchess
1984 Amazons Rosalund Joseph (final film role)


  1. ^ a b Lentz III, Harris M. (24 October 2008). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2006: Film, Television, Radio, Theatre. ISBN 9780786452118. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
  2. ^ a b c d McCann, Bob (21 December 2009). Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television (Tamara Dobson). ISBN 9780786458042. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
  3. ^ a b c d e "(JET Magazine) Tamara Dobson, 59: Known For 'Cleopatra Jones' Film Roles". Google Books. Johnson Publishing Company. 23 October 2006. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Smart, Tall and Beautiful, Tamara Dobson | African American Registry". www.aaregistry.org. Retrieved 2015-12-05.
  5. ^ "Tamara Dobson, 59; Former Model Starred in 'Cleopatra Jones' Movies". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
  6. ^ a b Thompson, M. Cordell (13 September 1973). "(JET Magazine) Tamara Dobson: Tall, Tough And Talented Actor". Google Books. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
  7. ^ David Michael Ettlin (October 6, 2006). "Cleopatra Jones star Tamara Dobson dies at 59". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
  8. ^ Klemesrud, Judy (August 19, 1973). "Tamara Dobson—Not Super Fly But Super Woman". The New York Times. Retrieved June 17, 2023.
  9. ^ a b "Tamara Dobson, 59, Model and Actress, Dies". The New York Times. October 6, 2006. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
  10. ^ "Actress Tamara Dobson, 59, starred as 'Cleopatra Jones'". Baltimore Sun. October 5, 2006. Retrieved 2011-01-30.

External links[edit]