Tamara Dobson As Cleopatra Jones: Blaxploitation's Forgotten Icon 

By Kellar Ellsworth
Tamara Dobson as Cleopatra Jones. Left: a detail of the UK poster for the first movie (1973). Right: from the poster for the sequel, Cleopatra Jones And The Casino Of Gold (1975). Sources: (John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images)

For model and actress Tamara Dobson, Cleopatra Jones was a career-defining role, establishing her as one of the leading stars of Blaxploitation cinema. Dobson was considered the second-most successful Blaxploitation actress, behind Pam Grier, whose filmography includes Foxy Brown and Coffy. Even though her output never matched Grier's, she was an icon of the era, a strikingly beautiful giantess of a woman with the biggest afro on the big screen. Sadly, Dobson contracted multiple sclerosis, and died in 2006 at the age of 59.