As I'm sure you've heard, Tamara Dobson died last week - too young - at age 59. Prior to becoming the iconic Cleopatra Jones onscreen she had a solid career as a model, appearing in Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Essence and in ad campaigns for Chanel, Revlon and Fabrege Tigress. In my novel (that's on the backburner until I finish the book on my aunt) the title character is an actress from the seventies, more or less modeled on bits and pieces of various black actresses of the time like Rosalind Cash, Diana Sands and action stars like Ms. Dobson and Pam Grier. During the course of my research, I found several great quotes from the actresses including the Diana Sands quote in my header. However, the original quote on my blog was from an article on Tamara Dobson in the Washington Post in 1978:
I am not good at eyelash fluttering, although 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. According to her brother Peter Dobson, Tamara had a "crushing experience" on one of her final films and decided to leave Hollywood for good. He said that she was very headstrong in her decisions and that she knew, yet she didn't know, what an iconic film figure she was. I must say that after reading several of her old interviews and profiles from the seventies, my guess is that the "crushing experience" was the straw that broke the camel's back for her because she had definite ideas about what she would and would not do on film. In one 1973 article in Ebony, she was very critical of some of the ways that black women were being portrayed in the dawning blaxploitation era - and she named names (or strongly implied.) She was absolutely from that "plain old grit and iron school" she spoke of in the Washington Post interview and, considering the press she was getting at the time (glowing profiles in the New York Times, etc.) she probably figured that she was on her way to becoming a big, big star - dignity intact. Instead, she left Hollywood and didn't look back. She ignored calls from old friends and offers to get back in the limelight (including her brother Peter's suggestion that she get in on WWE wrestling - I'm glad she nixed that one.) According to Peter, she lived in New York, owned and managed real estate and was a devoted aunt. I think that she was stunningly beautiful, extremely intelligent and an absolute groundbreaker - and I pray that she rests in peace.
Speaking of "grit and iron," I spotted Angela Bassett in a new commercial for Olay Definity. It was on at 1:30 in the morning of course - but she was flanked by two older black women (think Essence's Age Issue.) Now that's a first in a commercial if I've ever seen one! They need to run it during prime time. Or, at least during the new colored people's block on CW. A few print ads wouldn't hurt either! I checked You Tube for the commercial but no dice. Did anyone else see it? She looked great of course - so great that it made me wonder what took a beauty company so long to sign her. The woman is nearly fifty and doesn't have a wrinkle in sight (hello!)
And let's see, what else is going on?
Well, I flaked out on the black/brown blogger's luncheon yesterday at Dinosaur BBQ in Harlem. I really wanted to go but I slept in and was running so, so late. I was trying to fit in a mountain of laundry and a mountain of homework since I don't have weekdays to myself anymore. After much hemming and hawing, I never left the house! After all, although I go to NYU, I'm also a full-time student in the "plain old grit and iron school." I can't drop the ball because there is no one there to catch it except me!
And, I am TiVo-less. The grit and iron budget doesn't include TiVo so I have been missing Ugly Betty and Grey's Anatomy because I have a class on Thursday night (ugh!) I have been able to catch Oprah and Gayle's Road Trip since Oprah repeats at one in the morning (I know, I know.. I can't help it!) I swear, I would love to do a road trip! I'd probably go with my sisters because, unlike Oprah, I know they like to have the radio on in the car! I don't know how she expected to drive across the country with no (or very little) music, but I think I would have to ride with Gayle. I also took advantage of a free three day trial and heard some of the Oprah & Friends shows on XM Radio. Thumbs up to Gayle's show, Dr. Robin and Dr. Maya Angelou's show (I think it's a gift that she's even doing it.) Bob Greene and Nate Berkus didn't fall within my three day trial. However, I have to say that although I love Dr. Mehmet Oz, I'd rather watch him on television. If I've got to hear about gross bodily functions and or procedures, at least the visual demonstrations can distract me. I think his show is great for medical students, people in the health care industry - or hypochondriacs!
Labels: Where Have All The Black Girls Gone?