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.
At 6 feet, 2 inches tall and with a traffic-stopping, hourglass figure, Dobson was striking as the kung-fu fighting, huge-Afro-wearing government agent Cleopatra Jones in 1973. She reprised the role in 1975's "Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold."
"She was not afraid to start a trend. She designed a lot of the clothing that so many women emulated. With the knowledge from her degree and her natural creativity, she helped develop elegant fashions, especially for tall women," her brother, Peter Dobson of Houston, said.
Dobson also appeared in "Come Back, Charleston Blue," "Norman, Is That You?" "Murder at the World Series," and "Chained Heat." She had TV roles in the early 1980s in "Jason of Star Command" and "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century."
Dobson lived most of her adult life in New York, her family said. She was diagnosed six years ago with multiple sclerosis.
"It was tough going through that debilitating disease, especially with her athleticism and involvement in karate," her brother said. "That was something she had to fight, and that fight was horrendous and being a proud individual, the fight was even harder for her."
Funeral arrangements were incomplete.