Born 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)

Tamara DobsonTamara DobsonTamara DobsonTamara DobsonTamara Dobson and Bill McKinneyShelley Winters and Angela Gibbs

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)

Tamara Dobson and Ni TienCleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold poster

From the exciting sequel Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold. LEFT: With Ni Tien. RIGHT: Original release poster

Norman... Is that You? (1976)

Tamara Dobson and Dennis DuganTamara Dobson and Redd FoxxTamara Dobson

Stills from the MGM comedy Norman... Is That You?. LEFT: With Dennis Dugan. CENTER: With Redd Foxx. RIGHT: Beautiful shot of Dobson

later years

With 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.

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Amazons (1984) with Stella Stevens and Jack Scalia
Chained Heat (1983) with Stella Stevens, Linda Blair, and Sybil Danning
Murder at the World Series (1977) with Lynda Day George and Hugh O'Brian
Norman... Is That You? (1976) with Redd Foxx and Pearl Bailey
Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold (1975) with Stella Stevens and Norman Fell
Cleopatra Jones (1973) with Bernie Casey, Shelley Winters, Antonio Fargas, and Bill McKinney
Come Back, Charleston Blue (1972) with Godfrey Cambridge
Fuzz (1972) with Burt Reynolds and Raquel Welch

Jason of Star Command, 1979-1981 TV series. Dobson portrayed Samantha during the 1980-1981 season

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, episode Happy Birthday, Buck, originally aired January 10, 1980
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This page premiered July 25, 2002.