biographyBorn in Baltimore, Maryland, on May 14, 1947, gorgeous Tamara Dobson did not set out to be an actor. In the 1960s, she started a career as a licensed beautician and later earned a degree in fashion illustration at the Maryland Institute of Art. Between 1970 and 1971, Dobson went to New York, after the statuesque (reportedly 6'2") art student was selected for a fashion show. She embarked on a career as a Vogue model and appeared in a number of commercials before entering films. In 1972, she had small roles in several films, including Come Back, Charleston Blue and Fuzz. Her first starring role came in Cleopatra Jones (1973; with Shelley Winters).
the films of tamara dobson
Cleopatra Jones (1973)
Stills from the Warner Bros. film Cleopatra Jones. LEFT, CENTER A, and CENTER B: Beautiful promotional photos. CENTER C: With Albert Popwell and Caro Kenyatta. CENTER D: Cleopatra exacts revenge on Officer Purdy (Bill McKinney). RIGHT: Shelley Winters as the drug lord "Mommy"
Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold (1975)
From the exciting sequel Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold. LEFT: With Ni Tien. RIGHT: Original release poster
Norman... Is that You? (1976)
Stills from the MGM comedy Norman... Is That You?. LEFT: With Dennis Dugan. CENTER: With Redd Foxx. RIGHT: Beautiful shot of Dobson
later yearsWith Tamara Dobson's strong performances in Cleopatra Jones, Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold, and Norman... Is That You?, it would seem that her stardom was assured, but that wasn't the case. The blaxploitation genre perished in the mid 1970s, and the careers of many actors suffered because of it. Dobson worked in films and television only sporadically from the late 1970s through the early 1980s; her last film was Amazons, a 1984 made-for-TV film directed by Paul Michael Glaser.
The late 1990s saw a renewed interest in blaxploitation films and their stars; the ones who are still living, such as Pam Grier, have seen a resurgence in their careers. For several years, Warner Bros. planned a remake of Cleopatra Jones with Whitney Houston in the title role, but the remake never came to pass.
Dobson was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2000, and as her illness progressed, she left New York and returned to Baltimore. Sadly, Tamara Dobson passed away from complications of pneumonia and multiple sclerosis on October 2, 2006, at the age of 59. She was survived by a brother and sister.