I came home from work to find that Tamara Dobson had died, making her the second of the better known "blaxploitation" movie stars to join the Choir Invisible, Ron (SUPERFLY) O'Neal being the first. Best known as the title character in CLEOPATRA JONES (1973) and CLEOPATRA JONES AND THE CASINO OF GOLD (1975), Dobson looked great, but had the misfortune of being stuck in two of the biggest pieces of shit in the blaxploitation pantheon, films so boring and useless that they wouldn't even pass muster as fodder for MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000. But, hey, the films weren't written or directed by her, so she's an innocent in all of this, and will be enshrined as the female blaxploitation character with the most memorable name in the genre. And who could forget John Landis's parody of her in the KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE segment "Cleopatra Schwartz?"
Now that Tamara has passed, a morbid countdown continues, a death clock that ticks for all whose funky clothes and Death Star-sized 'fros dominated the screen for that brief but crazy time in the 1970's. You never know who'll be the last to go, but Melvin Van Peebles (SWEET SWEETBACK'S BADASSSSS SONG ) is not too far from taking the dirt nap, Richard (SHAFT) Roundtree beat breast Cancer and is only sixty-four, Rudy Ray (DOLEMITE) Moore hits seventy next year, while Pam Grier is only fifty-seven and still so fucking fine I'd happily eat her turds, so it's anyone's guess how it will all play out. That final prospect fascinates me as much as who'll end up as the Last Beatle (my money's on Ringo).
Anyway, rest in peace Miss Dobson, and here's what two major media sources had to say about your untimely demise-
From the Internet Movie Database:
Cleopatra Jones actress Tamara Dobson died in Baltimore, Maryland, on Monday. She was 59. According to Dobson's brother, she died from complications arising from multiple sclerosis and pneumonia. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis six years ago. Dobson found success as a professional model in the early 1970s before making her movie debut in 1972's Fuzz. But she will always be best remembered for her role as Cleopatra Jones in the 1973 movie. The character was the inspiration behind Beyonce Knowles turn as Foxxy Cleopatra in 2002's Austin Powers In Goldmember.
And this from CNN-
BALTIMORE, Maryland (AP) -- Tamara Dobson, the tall, stunning model-turned-actress who portrayed a strong female role as Cleopatra Jones in two "blaxploitation" films, has died.
Dobson, 59, died Monday of complications from pneumonia and multiple sclerosis at the Keswick Multi-Care Center, where she had lived for the past two years, her publicist said. At 6 feet, 2 inches tall, Dobson was striking as the kung-fu fighting government agent Cleopatra Jones in 1973. She reprised the role in 1975's "Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold."
"She was not afraid to start a trend," said her brother, Peter Dobson, of Houston. "She designed a lot of the clothing that so many women emulated."
Dobson also appeared in "Come Back, Charleston Blue," "Norman, Is That You?" "Murder at the World Series" and "Chained Heat." She had TV roles in the early 1980s in "Jason of Star Command" and "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century."
Dobson lived most of her adult life in New York, her family said. She was diagnosed six years ago with multiple sclerosis.