From the AP:
BALTIMORE - Tamara Dobson, the stunning Amazonian model-turned-actress who portrayed a strong female role as Cleopatra Jones in two so-called 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.
Dobson was born in Baltimore and graduated from Western High School. She began her modeling career in fashion shows at the Maryland Institute College of Art and then moved to New York. She appeared in many magazines, including Vogue and Essence, and television commercials for Faberge, Chanel and Revlon.
As a huge fan of the 70s blaxploitation films, "Cleopatra Jones" was one of my favorite flicks, having first hearing about her when Ladybug from Digable Planets shouted her out on the group's hit single "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)". And while she suffered in the limelight that was Pam Grier (as Foxy Brown) at the time, Dobson still represented back in the day with her tall figure, hella' sexy looks, style and fashion acumen (as proven by the fact that she was one of the first Black supermodels).
As Cleopatra Jones, Dobson played a street-smart, special agent on a quest to wipe drugs and drug dealers off the face of the planet. Simply put, Cleopatra Jones had it goin' on: an intelligent Black woman who was loyal to her man, could make any man turn his head and kick your ass at the same time if you ever disrespected her. Her main nemesis was a drug kingpin played by Shelley Winters (yeah, that Shelley Winters) who messes with Cleo's man as well as her rehab house. This was a really cool film from the Blaxploitation genre and the fact that it had a higher budget than most films from that era, made it much easier to watch than the other well-known flicks (including the legendary "Shaft"). Word has it that Beyonce's character "Foxy Cleopatra" in Austin Powers "Goldmember", was based on Cleopatra Jones.
RIP Tamara Dobson