Tamara Dobson is 6 feet 2 inches tall.
She is also a movie star ("Cleopatra Jones" and "Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold"), an honorary black belt in karate, a model, a singer, a former junk food addict turned vegetarian and most important - at least for the moment - the new representative for Faberge's Tigress perfume.
Now according to the press release the Tigress woman is one with "a passion for drama and a touch of uninhibited daring." Dobson concedes a certain lack of fear. "I've never had a sense of fear," says the actress, and nonchalantly mentions that during the filming of "Cleopatra Jones and Casino of Gold" she was accidentally stabbed and shot while doing her own stunts. "In fact, the only fear I have is the fear of being poor. Poverty scares me."
Wearing a beige jumpsuit, her hair pulled severely off her face into a scarf-covered chignon, Dobson devours the sidewalk in long purposeful strides, walking, she says, "like I know where I'm going." She is bright, disciplined, confident - the result perhaps, of having spent most of her life towering over lesser mortals.
"My mother always told me that being tall was the most wonderful thing anybody could be," says Dobson, who hit 6 feet at 14. "Whenever she saw me stooping over, she'd pinch my Achilles heel. And since I was growing up around tall people, it was different."
Dobson is one of four children in a Baltimore family of "middle-class income with an upper-middle-class background. We had a lot of love, but there was no keeping up with the Joneses, mainly because there were no Joneses." Her 6-2 sister and 6-6 1/2 brother are currently taking prelaw courses at the University of Maryland California's pepperdine University, respectively. Another brother is a postal worker in Baltimore.
Dobson glows when speaking of her mother, a beautician, "My mother is the most alive, lovely creature you ever saw. Our family unit is the most important thing to me, because of her. Anything good I do is to her credit. She is the driving force and always has been." Her father, she says, is "deceased." Her mother was her "important parent," she says.
Following graduation from Western High School, Dobson headed for the Maryland Institute of Art, set on becoming a fashion illustrator. But somebody suggested that instead of drawing models she become one herself. So after finishing her degree in 1970 she headed for New York. "I did all the modelling I could get my hands on," she says. "It was fast, great money."
Dobson started in movies playing Yul Brynner's wife in a forgettable flick called "Fuzz." She followed that with "Cleopatra Jones," playing a black Amazon superwoman dedicated to fighting the international narcotics trade. Some called the movie black exploitation. But Dobson called it wonderful. "It was a good vehicle for me. Doggone good. I felt great about it."
Although readily admitting that being a black actress is tough, Dobson is not militant. "I'm much more involved in getting the work done. I don't stand on the pulpit and preach. The important thing for anybody - black or white - is: do you have a good product? The most important thing is dollar bills. They change the color of everything. You can't get much done without them."
Dobson's dedication to the pursuit of "happiness, health and wealth," as she laughingly puts it, seems nearly monastic. She is up every day by 6, of-ten jogs, but always hits the gym at least once a day in order to keep her 130-pound weight. She continues the karate she started during the filming of "Cleopatra Jones," and in the last four years she has cold-turkeyed off not only junk food, but cigarettes and alcohol.
Her age? "Twenty-one-plus," because "I'm in a business where age is a detriment, not a plus. When a man gets older, they say what character he has but with a woman, all they tell you is you need a facelift. So why defeat my own purpose? After all, Lena Horne kept them guessing for along time."
Dobson lives alone in New York. She has never been married, and feels she never will take the step, even though she clearly isn't interested in going it alone. "If I'm going to play the game to win, I sure want to have someone to share it with when I do win."
And who might this be "Well, just someone gentle, kind, tender, wealthy, courageous, bright, physically fit and handsome. Age doesn't matter although I do have an affinity for older men."
Dobson balks at the idea of having children, "I already have two children," she says. "My brother and my sister."
Dobson's schedule is full for the next year. Hyping Tigress, following in the footsteps of Lola Falana and Barbara Feldon, she will travel across the United States and Europe, do TV and print commercials, and make a film - "Department Store" - for Faberge's movie company, Brut.
Yet, she says, if the right man did come along, she might well throw in the towel on her own career.
"Sure, I would. Why not. If he had enough going for both of us - enough so I could step into his world and be fulfilled - I might give it a try. But I sure couldn't sit home and just get my nails done.I am not good at eyelash fluttering, althoug sometimes I wish I were. But unfortunately, I'm afraid I come from that plain old grit and iron school. Grit your teeth and keep on ironin', honey."