Pam Grier
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Pam Grier

Pam Grier
Pamela Suzette Grier, 2012 (cropped).jpg
Grier in 2012
Born
Pamela Suzette Grier

(1949-05-26) May 26, 1949 (age 71)
NationalityAmerican
Alma materMetropolitan State College
OccupationActress
Years active1970-present
Known forCoffy
Foxy Brown
Sheba Baby
Friday Foster
Jackie Brown
Height5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar[1]
(1969-1971)
Freddie Prinze[2][1]
(1973-1975)
Richard Pryor
(1976-1977)
Kevin Evans
(1997-1999)
AwardsSan Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress - Jackie Brown

Pamela Suzette Grier (born May 26, 1949) is an American actress. She achieved fame for her starring roles in a string of 1970s women in prison and blaxploitation films for American International Pictures and New World Pictures, most notably Coffy (1973) and Foxy Brown (1974). Her other films during this period include The Big Doll House (1971), The Big Bird Cage (1972), Black Mama, White Mama (1973), Scream Blacula Scream (1973), The Arena (1974), Sheba, Baby (1975), Bucktown (1975), and Friday Foster (1975). Described by Quentin Tarantino as cinema's first female action star,[3] she starred as the titular character in Tarantino's 1997 crime film Jackie Brown, for which she received a Satellite Award and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. She has also been nominated for a SAG Award.

For six seasons, Grier portrayed Kate "Kit" Porter on the Showtime television series The L Word, which ran from 2004 until 2009. She received an Emmy nomination for her work in the animated program Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child.

Early life

Grier was born on May 26, 1949, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the daughter of Gwendolyn Sylvia (née Samuels), a homemaker and nurse, and Clarence Ransom Grier, Jr., who worked as a mechanic and technical sergeant in the United States Air Force. She has one sister and one brother.[4] Grier has stated that she is of mixed ancestry, namely of African-American, Hispanic, Chinese, Filipino, and Cheyenne heritage.[5]

At age 6, Grier was raped by two boys when she was left unattended at her aunt's house. "It took so long to deal with the pain of that," she says, "You try to deal with it, but you never really get over it," she adds. "And not just me; my family endured so much guilt and anger that something like that happened to me."[5] Because of her father's military career, the family moved frequently during her childhood to various places such as England before eventually settling in Denver, Colorado, where she attended East High School. While in Denver, she appeared in a number of stage productions, and participated in beauty contests to raise money for college tuition at Metropolitan State College. While in college, she was date raped.[6]

Career

Grier moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1967, where she was initially hired to work the switchboard at American International Pictures (AIP).[7] She is believed to have been discovered by director Jack Hill,[8] who cast her in his women-in-prison films The Big Doll House (1971) and The Big Bird Cage (1972). While under contract at AIP, she became a staple of early 1970s blaxploitation movies, playing big, bold, assertive women, beginning with Jack Hill's Coffy (1973), in which she plays a nurse who seeks revenge on drug dealers. Her character was advertised in the trailer as the "baddest one-chick hit-squad that ever hit town!" The film, which was filled with sexual and violent elements typical of the genre, was a box-office hit. Grier is considered to be the first African-American female to headline an action film, as protagonists of previous blaxploitation films were males. In his review of Coffy, critic Roger Ebert praised the film for its believable female lead. He noted that Grier was an actress of "beautiful face and astonishing form" and that she possessed a kind of "physical life" missing from many other attractive

Grier subsequently played similar characters in the AIP films Foxy Brown (1974), Sheba, Baby, and Friday Foster (both 1975). With the demise of blaxploitation later in the 1970s, Grier appeared in smaller roles for many years. She acquired progressively larger character roles in the 1980s, including a druggie prostitute in Fort Apache, The Bronx (1981), a witch in Something Wicked this Way Comes (1983).

In 1985, Grier made her theater debut in Sam Sheppard's Fool for Love at the Los Angeles Theatre Center.[10]

Grier returned to film as Steven Seagal's detective partner in Above the Law (1988). She had a recurring role on Miami Vice from 1985 to 1989 and made guest appearances on Martin, Night Court, and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. She had a recurring role in the TV series Crime Story between 1986 and 1988. Her role in Rocket Gibraltar (1988) was cut due to fears by the film's director, Daniel Petrie, of "repercussions from interracial love scenes."[11] She appeared on Sinbad, Preston Chronicles, The Cosby Show, The Wayans Brothers Show, and Mad TV. In 1994, Grier appeared in Snoop Dogg's video for "Doggy Dogg World".

Grier with moderator Jarrett Crippen during a Q&A session at the 2013 Wizard World New York Experience

In the late 1990s Grier was a cast member of the Showtime series Linc's. She appeared in 1996 in John Carpenter's Escape from L.A. and 1997 with the title role in Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown, films that partly paid homage to her 1970s blaxploitation movies. She was nominated for numerous awards for her work in the Tarantino film. Grier appeared on Showtime's The L Word, in which she played Kit Porter. The series ran for six seasons and ended in March 2009. Grier occasionally guest-stars in such television series as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (where she is a recurring character).

In 2010 Grier began appearing in a recurring role on the hit science-fiction series Smallville as the villain Amanda Waller, also known as White Queen, head agent of Checkmate, a covert operations agency. She appeared as a friend and colleague to Julia Roberts' college professor in 2011's Larry Crowne.

In 2010, Grier wrote her memoir, Foxy: My Life in Three Acts, with Andrea Cagan.[12]

Grier received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in 2011. That same year, she received an honorary Doctorate of Science from Langston University.[13]

She founded the Pam Grier Community Garden and Education Center with the National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum. The purpose is to teach people about organic gardening, health and nutrition among other things.[14] The museum named its first garden in honor of Grier in 2011.[15]

In January 2018, Grier revealed a biopic based on her memoir is in the works, entitled Pam.[6]

Personal life

Grier lives on a ranch in Colorado.[16]

Relationships

Grier has never married but has been in a few high profile relationships.

Grier met basketball player Lew Alcindor before he became a Muslim. Soon after they began dating, he converted to Islam and changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Abdul-Jabbar proposed to Grier, but gave her an ultimatum to convert to Islam.[17] He said, "If you don't commit to me today, I'm getting married at 2 this afternoon. She's a converted Muslim, and she's been prepared for me," adding, "once you become Muslim, you might appreciate another wife." Grier declined, so he got married that day.[18]

Grier met comedian Freddie Prinze while promoting her film Coffy in 1973. They began a relationship and considered marriage.[18] Prinze wanted her to have his baby, but she was reluctant due to his history of depression and drug addiction.[12][19] They remained in touch after she broke up with him. She was one of the last people Prinze spoke to before he fatally shot himself in 1977.[6]

Grier met comedian Richard Pryor through her relationship with Prinze, but they did not begin dating until they were both cast in Greased Lightning.[18] She helped Pryor learn to read and tried to help him with his drug addiction.[6][12] After six months of sobriety he relapsed.[18] In her memoir, Grier revealed her sexual relationship with Pryor caused cocaine to enter her system. During an appointment, she was informed that she had a "buildup of cocaine residue" around her cervix and vagina which her doctor called an "epidemic" in Beverly Hills. He asked her if perhaps Pryor put cocaine on his penis to sustain his erection; she was unsure.[20] He then asked if her mouth went numb while performing oral sex on Pryor, to which she said it did, and he linked it to the Novocaine-like effects of cocaine. Grier confronted Pryor about protecting her health, but he refused to use a condom.[19] Pryor married another woman while dating Grier in 1977.[21]

Grier was formerly romantically linked to Soul Train host Don Cornelius[22] and basketball player Wilt Chamberlain.[23]

In 1998, Grier was engaged to RCA Records executive Kevin Evans, but the engagement ended in 1999.[24]

Health

Grier was diagnosed with stage-four cervical cancer in 1988, and was told she had 18 months to live. Through vigorous treatment she made a recovery and has been in remission.[25]

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Director(s) Notes Ref.
1970 Beyond the Valley of the Dolls Partygoer Russ Meyer [26]
1971 The Big Doll House Grear Jack Hill [26]
1971 Women in Cages Alabama Gerardo de León [26]
1972 The Twilight People Ayesa Eddie Romero [26]
1972 Cool Breeze Mona Barry Pollack [26]
1972 The Big Bird Cage Blossom Jack Hill [26]
1972 Hit Man Gozelda George Armitage [26]
1973 Black Mama White Mama Lee Daniels Eddie Romero [26]
1973 Coffy Coffy Jack Hill [26]
1973 Scream Blacula Scream Lisa Fortier Bob Kelljan [26]
1974 The Arena Mamawi Steve Carver [26]
1974 Foxy Brown Foxy Brown Jack Hill [26]
1975 Sheba, Baby Sheba Shayne William Girdler [26]
1975 Bucktown Aretha Arthur Marks [26]
1975 Friday Foster Friday Foster Arthur Marks [26]
1976 Drum Regine Steve Carver [26]
1977 Greased Lightning Mary Jones Michael Schultz [26]
1977 Twilight of Love Sandra Luigi Scattini
1981 Fort Apache, The Bronx Charlotte Daniel Petrie [26]
1983 Something Wicked This Way Comes Dust Witch Jack Clayton [26]
1983 Tough Enough Myra Richard Fleischer [26]
1985 Stand Alone Cathryn Bolan Alan Beattie [27]
1986 The Vindicator Hunter Jean-Claude Lord [27]
1986 On the Edge Cora Rob Nilsson [26]
1987 The Allnighter Sgt. McLeesh Tamar Simon Hoffs [26]
1988 Above the Law Delores 'Jacks' Jackson Andrew Davis [26]
1989 The Package Ruth Butler Andrew Davis [26]
1990 Class of 1999 Ms. Connors Mark L. Lester [26]
1991 Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey Ms. Wardroe Peter Hewitt [26]
1993 Posse Phoebe Mario Van Peebles [26]
1996 Original Gangstas Laurie Thompson Larry Cohen [26]
1996 Escape from L.A. Hershe Las Palmas John Carpenter [27]
1996 Mars Attacks! Louise Williams Tim Burton [27]
1997 Fakin' da Funk Annabelle Lee Timothy Chey [27]
1997 Jackie Brown Jackie Brown Quentin Tarantino [26]
1999 No Tomorrow Diane Master P [27]
1999 Jawbreaker Detective Vera Cruz Darren Stein [27]
1999 In Too Deep Det. Angela Wilson Michael Rymer [27]
1999 Holy Smoke! Carol Jane Campion [27]
2000 Snow Day Tina Chris Koch [27]
2000 Fortress 2: Re-Entry Susan Mendenhall Geoff Murphy [27]
2000 Wilder Detective Della Wilder Rodney Gibbons Alternate title: Slow Burn [27]
2001 Ghosts of Mars Commander Helena Braddock John Carpenter [26]
2001 Bones Pearl Ernest Dickerson [26]
2001 Love the Hard Way Linda Peter Sehr [27]
2002 The Adventures of Pluto Nash Flura Nash Ron Underwood [27]
2005 Back in the Day Mrs. Cooper James Hunter [27]
2010 The Invited Zelda Ryan McKinney [27]
2010 Just Wright Janice Wright Sanaa Hamri [27]
2010 Machete Maidens Unleashed! Herself Mark Hartley [27]
2011 Larry Crowne Frances Tom Hanks [27]
2011 Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel Herself Alex Stapelton [27]
2012 Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day Detective Barrick Neema Barnette [26]
2012 Mafia James Womack Ryan Combs [27]
2012 The Man with the Iron Fists Jane RZA [27]
2017 Bad Grandmas Coralee Srikant Chellappa [27]
2017 Being Rose Lily Rod McCall [27]
2019 Poms Olive Zara Hayes [27]

Television

Year Title Role Notes
1979 Roots: The Next Generations Francey Miniseries
Episode: "Part IV (1917-1921)"
1980 The Love Boat Cynthia Wilbur 2 episodes
1985 Badge of the Assassin Alexandra Horn Television film
1985-1990 Miami Vice Valerie Gordon 3 episodes
1986 Night Court Benet Collins 2 episodes
1986-1988 Crime Story Suzanne Terry Recurring role
7 episodes
1987 The Cosby Show Samantha Episode: "Planning Parenthood"
1988 Frank's Place Neema Sharone Episode: "Frank's Place - The Movie"
1989 Midnight Caller Susan Province Episode: "Blood Red"
1990 Knots Landing Lieutenant Guthrie 2 episodes
1991 Monsters Matilde Episode: "Hostile Takeover"
1992 Pacific Station Grace Ballard Episode: "My Favorite Dad"
A Mother's Right: The Elizabeth Morgan Story Linda Holman Television film
1994 In Living Color Herself Episode: "Mrs. Ikefire"
The Sinbad Show Lynn Montgomery 2 episodes
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Janice Robertson Episode: "M is for the Many Things She Gave Me"
1995 The Marshal Marshal Vanetta Brown Episode: "Rainbow Comix"
Martin Herself Episode: "All the Players Came"
1996 Sparks Ms. Grayson Episode: "Pillow Talk"
The Wayans Bros. Erica Episodes: "Goin' to the Net"
1998 Mad TV Host Episode #3.25
Pinky and the Brain Julie Auburn Voice role
Episode: "Inherit the Wheeze"
Family Blessings Mrs. Quincy Television film
1998-2000 Linc's Eleanor Winthrop Series regular
35 episodes
1999 The Wild Thornberrys Mother Springbok Voice role
Episode: "Stick Your Neck Out"
Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child The Empress' Nightingale Voice role
Episode: "The Empress' Nightingale"
Hayley Wagner, Star Sam Television film
For Your Love Brenda Episode: "The Sins of the Mother and... the Boyfriend"
2001 The Feast of All Saints Suzzette Lermontant Television film
3 A.M. George Television movie
2002 Night Visions Dr. Lewis Episode: "Switch"
Justice League My'ria'h Voice role
2 episodes
2002-2003 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Asst. US Attorney Claudia Williams 2 episodes
2003 First to Die Claire Washburn Television film
2004-2009 The L Word Kit Porter Series regular
70 episodes
2008 Ladies of the House Roberta "Birdie" Marchand Television film
2010 Smallville Amanda Waller 3 episodes
2015 Cleveland Abduction Nurse Carla Television film
2018 This Is Us Grandma Episode: "This Big, Amazing, Beautiful Life"
2019-2020 Bless This Mess Constance Main role
2019 A Christmas Wish Mary Television film

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2013 Grand Theft Auto V Radio Presenter DJ on in-game radio station 'The Lowdown 91.1'
2017 Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Herself Shaolin Shuffle DLC

Discography

Books

  • 2010: Foxy: My Life in Three Acts (ISBN 9780446548502)

Accolades

Awards

Nominations

References

  1. ^ a b "The Illest Na Na". Vibe Magazine. February 1998. Retrieved 2018 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ "Freddie Prinze". Vibe Magazine. February 1998. Retrieved 2018 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ "Pam Grier". Wizard World. Archived from the original on April 10, 2016. Retrieved 2015.
  4. ^ Mal Vincent (January 6, 1998). "She's Back, And She's Ready To Kick Butt. Pam Grier Is Baaaaaad, And Was not very nice The Man Who Doesn'T Take Notice". The Virginian-Pilot Archives. Norfolk, VA. Retrieved 2013.
  5. ^ a b John Petkovic, The Plain Dealer (September 18, 2010). "Pam Grier, queen of 1970s blaxploitation films, speaks in Cleveland on her book tour". cleveland.com. Retrieved 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d Fleming, Mike (January 16, 2018). "'70s Screen Icon Pam Grier Speaks On Sex Harassment & Her Biopic With Jay Pharoah Playing Richard Pryor". Deadline.
  7. ^ Robinson, Louie (June 1976). "Pam Grier: More Than Just a Sex Symbol". Ebony. pp. 33-42 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ Dixon, Wheeler Wixon (March 1, 2005). "Filmmaking "for the fun of it": An Interview with Jack Hill". Film Criticism. 29 (3): 46-59.
  9. ^ "RogerEbert.com". Coffy. Retrieved 2006.
  10. ^ "Pam Grier Makes Debut In Stage Production". Jet: 62. October 21, 1985.
  11. ^ "JerryattheMovies". Foxy Brown and Elmer Gantry? Nay, nay. Retrieved 2012.
  12. ^ a b c Lee, Felicia R. (May 4, 2010). "Pam Grier's Collection of Lessons Learned". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
  13. ^ Walker, Yvette (October 16, 2011). "Dionne Warwick, Pam Grier receive honorary doctorates from Langston University". NewsOK.
  14. ^ Nash, Suzi (February 26, 2015). "Pam Grier: Growing awareness through education, activism". Philadelphia Gay News.
  15. ^ "National Cowboys of Color Museum and Hall of Fame - Dallas/Ft. Worth". National Multicultural Western Heritage.
  16. ^ Foxy (28 April, 2010) http://www.popflock.com/video?id=YxnK-W5hlBA Hachette Book Group - via YouTube
  17. ^ Marchese, David (September 15, 2019). "Pam Grier on Maintaining Her Independence and Identity in Showbiz". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
  18. ^ a b c d Getlen, Larry (April 18, 2010). "Foxy: my life in three acts". New York Post.
  19. ^ a b Grier, Pam (2010). Foxy: My Life in Three Acts. Springboard. ISBN 978-0-446-54850-2.
  20. ^ Munzenrieder, Kyle (April 26, 2010). "Pam Grier: 'Cocaine? In My Vagina?'". Miami New Times. Retrieved 2017.
  21. ^ Summers, Chris (August 25, 2013). "The demons that drove Richard Pryor to make us laugh". BBC.
  22. ^ Blount Danois, Ericka (2013). Love, Peace, and Soul: Behind the Scenes of America's Favorite Dance Show Soul Train: Classic Moments. Backbeat Books. ISBN 978-1-4803-4101-2.
  23. ^ "People Are Talking About..." JET Magazine. Johnson Publishing Company. August 16, 1973. Retrieved 2018 – via Google Books.
  24. ^ "Pam Grier Talks About Her: Engagement To A Younger Man, Booming Career, Surviving Cancer, Plans To Have A Baby". Jet: 36-39. April 13, 1998.
  25. ^ Shaitly, Shahesta (December 10, 2011). "Pam Grier takes raunch to the ranch". The Guardian.
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af "Pam Grier Filmography". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Los Angeles, California: American Film Institute. Archived from the original on March 10, 2020.
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y "Pam Grier Filmography". AllMovie. Archived from the original on February 4, 2020.
  28. ^ "Turner Broadcasting Announces 2003 Trumpet Awards Honorees". WarnerMedia.
  29. ^ "Trumpet Awards Honorees Include Destiny's child, Spike Lee, Pam Grier". Jet: 14-15. February 24, 2003.
  30. ^ "9th Annual 20/20 Award Winners Announced | 20/20 Awards | Films that have stood the test of time".

Further reading

  • Sims, Yvonne D. (2006), "Here comes the queen", in Sims, Yvonne D. (ed.), Women of blaxploitation: how the black action film heroine changed American popular culture, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers, pp. 71-92, ISBN 978-0-7864-2744-4.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

External links


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