Grier in 2012
Pamela Suzette Grier
May 26, 1949
|Education||East High School|
Metropolitan State College
|Height||5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)|
|Awards||San 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, 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.
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. Grier has stated that she is of mixed ancestry consisting of African-American, Hispanic, Chinese, Filipino, and Cheyenne heritage.
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." 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.
Grier moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1967, where she was initially hired to work the switchboard at American International Pictures (AIP). She is believed to have been discovered by director Jack Hill, 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 actresses.
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).
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." 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".
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.
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.
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. The museum named its first garden in honor of Grier in 2011.
In January 2018, Grier revealed a biopic based on her memoir is in the works titled Pam.
Grier lives on a ranch in Colorado.
Grier has never been married but she had 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. 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.
Grier met comedian Freddie Prinze while promoting her film Coffy in 1973. They fell in love and considered marriage. Prinze wanted her to have his baby, but she was reluctant due to his history of depression and drug addiction. 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.
Grier met comedian Richard Pryor through her relationship with Prinze, but they didn't begin dating until they were both cast in Greased Lightning. She helped Pryor learn to read and tried to help him with his drug addiction. After six months sober he relapsed. 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. 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. Pryor married another woman while dating Grier in 1977.
Awards and nominations
- 1998: San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress — Jackie Brown
- 1999: Acapulco Black Film Festival Career Achievement Award
- 2000: Csapnivalo Award for Best Female Performance — Jackie Brown
- 2001: High Falls Film Festival Susan B. Anthony 'Failure is Impossible' Award
- 2003: Special Achievement in Film Trumpet Award
- 2008: RiverRun International Film Festival Master of Cinema Award
- 2018: 20/20 Award for Best Actress — Jackie Brown
- 2018: Catalonian International Film Festival Time-Machine Honorary Award
- 2018: Tallgrass International Film Festival Ad Astra Award
- 1997: Awards Circuit Community Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role — Jackie Brown
- 1998: Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress — Jackie Brown
- 1998: Empire Award for Best Actress — Jackie Brown
- 1998: Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy — Jackie Brown
- 1998: NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture — Jackie Brown
- 1998: Online Film & Television Association for Best Drama Actress — Jackie Brown
- 1998: Satellite Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy — Jackie Brown
- 1998: Saturn Award for Best Actress — Jackie Brown
- 1998: Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role — Jackie Brown
- 1999: NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series — Linc's
- 2000: NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series — Linc's
- 2000: Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program — Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child
- 2002: Black Reel Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture — Bones
- 2002: NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special — 3 A.M.
- 2002: Black Reel Award for Best Actress in Network/Cable Series — 3 A.M.
- 2003: NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series — Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
- 2004: NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series — Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
- 2005: NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series — The L Word
- 2006: NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series — The L Word
- 2008: NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series — The L Word
|1970||Beyond the Valley of the Dolls||Partygoer|
|1971||The Big Doll House||Grear|
|Women in Cages||Alabama|
|1972||The Twilight People||Ayesa|
|The Big Bird Cage||Blossom|
|1973||Black Mama White Mama||Lee Daniels|
|Scream Blacula Scream||Lisa Fortier|
|Foxy Brown||Foxy Brown|
|1975||Sheba, Baby||Sheba Shayne|
|Friday Foster||Friday Foster|
|1977||Greased Lightning||Mary Jones|
|Twilight of Love||Sandra|
|1981||Fort Apache, The Bronx||Charlotte|
|1983||Something Wicked This Way Comes||Dust Witch|
|1985||Stand Alone||Cathryn Bolan|
|On the Edge||Cora|
|1987||The Allnighter||Sgt. McLeesh|
|1988||Above the Law||Delores 'Jacks' Jackson|
|1989||The Package||Ruth Butler|
|1990||Class of 1999||Ms. Connors|
|1991||Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey||Ms. Wardroe|
|1996||Original Gangstas||Laurie Thompson|
|Escape from L.A.||Hershe Las Palmas|
|Mars Attacks!||Louise Williams|
|1997||Fakin' da Funk||Annabelle Lee|
|Jackie Brown||Jackie Brown|
|1999||Jawbreaker||Detective Vera Cruz|
|In Too Deep||Det. Angela Wilson|
|Fortress 2: Re-Entry||Susan Mendenhall|
|Wilder||Detective Della Wilder|
|2001||Ghosts of Mars||Commander Helena Braddock|
|2002||The Adventures of Pluto Nash||Flura Nash|
|2005||Back in the Day||Mrs. Cooper|
|Just Wright||Janice Wright|
|Machete Maidens Unleashed!||Herself|
|Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel||Herself|
|2012||Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day||Detective Barrick|
|The Man with the Iron Fists||Jane|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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||Bless This Mess||Constance||Main role|
|2019||A Christmas Wish||Mary||Television film|
|2013||Grand Theft Auto V||Radio Presenter||DJ on in-game radio station 'The Lowdown 91.1'|
|2017||Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare||Herself|
- "Long Time Woman" (1971, from the film The Big Doll House)
- Communication by Bobby Womack (1971, backing vocals)
- Understanding by Bobby Womack (1972, backing vocals)
- "The Illest Na Na". Vibe Magazine. February 1998. Retrieved June 11, 2018 – via Google Books.
- "Freddie Prinze". Vibe Magazine. February 1998. Retrieved June 11, 2018 – via Google Books.
- "Pam Grier". Wizard World. Retrieved June 29, 2015.
- 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 October 5, 2013.
- 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 September 15, 2013.
- Fleming, Mike (January 16, 2018). "'70s Screen Icon Pam Grier Speaks On Sex Harassment & Her Biopic With Jay Pharoah Playing Richard Pryor". Deadline.
- Robinson, Louie (June 1976). "Pam Grier: More Than Just a Sex Symbol". Ebony. pp. 33–42 – via Google Books.
- Dixon, Wheeler Wixon (March 1, 2005). "Filmmaking "for the fun of it": An Interview with Jack Hill". Film Criticism. 29 (3): 46–59.
- "RogerEbert.com". Coffy. Retrieved May 11, 2006.
- "Pam Grier Makes Debut In Stage Production". Jet: 62. October 21, 1985.
- "JerryattheMovies". Foxy Brown and Elmer Gantry? Nay, nay. Retrieved March 15, 2012.
- Lee, Felicia R. (May 4, 2010). "Pam Grier's Collection of Lessons Learned". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
- Walker, Yvette (October 16, 2011). "Dionne Warwick, Pam Grier receive honorary doctorates from Langston University". NewsOK.
- Nash, Suzi (February 26, 2015). "Pam Grier: Growing awareness through education, activism". Philadelphia Gay News.
- "National Cowboys of Color Museum and Hall of Fame - Dallas/Ft. Worth". National Multicultural Western Heritage.
- Foxy (28 April, 2010) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxnK-W5hlBA Hachette Book Group - via YouTube
- Marchese, David (September 15, 2019). "Pam Grier on Maintaining Her Independence and Identity in Showbiz". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
- Getlen, Larry (April 18, 2010). "Foxy: my life in three acts". New York Post.
- Grier, Pam (2010). Foxy: My Life in Three Acts. Springboard. ISBN 978-0-446-54850-2.
- Munzenrieder, Kyle (April 26, 2010). "Pam Grier: 'Cocaine? In My Vagina?'". Miami New Times. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
- Summers, Chris (August 25, 2013). "The demons that drove Richard Pryor to make us laugh". BBC.
- 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.
- "People Are Talking About..." JET Magazine. Johnson Publishing Company. August 16, 1973. Retrieved June 11, 2018 – via Google Books.
- "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.
- Shaitly, Shahesta (December 10, 2011). "Pam Grier takes raunch to the ranch". The Guardian.
- "Turner Broadcasting Announces 2003 Trumpet Awards Honorees". WarnerMedia.
- "Trumpet Awards Honorees Include Destiny's child, Spike Lee, Pam Grier". Jet: 14–15. February 24, 2003.
- "9th Annual 20/20 Award Winners Announced | 20/20 Awards | Films that have stood the test of time".
- 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.
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