Tamara Dobson, the statuesque model-turned-actress who made a name for herself in two Cleopatra Jones “blaxploitation” films of the 1970s, died Monday of complications from pneumonia and multiple sclerosis, her publicist said. She was 59.
Dobson, who was diagnosed with MS six years ago, passed away at Baltimore’s Keswick Multi-Care Center, where she had lived for the past two years, according to the rep, the Associated Press reports.
Besides starring as the kung-fu-fighting government agent out to eliminate drug trafficking in 1973’s Cleopatra Jones and 1975’s Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold, the 6’2″ one-time Vogue model also appeared in the movies Come Back, Charleston Blue; Norman, Is That You?; Murder at the World Series and Chained Heat.
In the early ’80s she had TV roles in Jason of Star Command and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
“She was not afraid to start a trend,” her brother, Peter Dobson, of Houston, tells the AP. “She designed a lot of the clothing that so many women emulated.”
In August 2002, PEOPLE reported, Mary J. Blige adopted Dobson’s glam Cleopatra Jones look for a fashion show.
That same year, Dobson’s signature role was parodied in Austin Powers in Goldmember, in which an outrageously Afro-ed Beyonce Knowles played the character Foxxy Cleopatra.