Pamela Suzette Grier
May 26, 1949
|Alma mater||Metropolitan State College|
|Known for|| Coffy |
The L Word
|Height||5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)|
Pamela Suzette Grier (born May 26, 1949) is an American actress. She achieved fame for her starring roles in a string of 1970s action, blaxploitation, and women in prison films for American International Pictures and New World Pictures, most notably Coffy (1973) and Foxy Brown (1974). Her other major films during this period included The Big Doll House (1971), Women in Cages (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 crime film Jackie Brown (1997), for which she received Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, Satellite Award, and Saturn Award nominations for Best Actress. Grier's subsequent films included Jawbreaker (1999), Bones (2001), Just Wright (2010), Larry Crowne (2011), and Poms (2019).
On television, Grier portrayed Eleanor Winthrop in the Showtime comedy-drama series Linc's (1998–2000), Kate "Kit" Porter on the Showtime drama series The L Word (2004–2009), and Constance Terry in the ABC sitcom Bless This Mess (2019–2020). She also received a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for her work in the animated series Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child (1999).
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, namely of African-American, Hispanic, Chinese, Filipino, and Cheyenne heritage. She was raised Catholic and later baptized as a Methodist.
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). actresses.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
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.
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, entitled Pam.
Grier lives on a ranch in Colorado.
Grier has never married but has had several high-profile relationships.
She met basketball player Ferdinand Lewis (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 began a relationship 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 left 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 did not 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 of sobriety, he relapsed. In her memoir, Grier described how 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 that her doctor called an "epidemic" in Beverly Hills. He asked her if Pryor might have 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, and she said it did. The doctor 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.
Grier was formerly romantically linked to Jimmie “Big Wheel" Wheeler, a famous boxing promoter, Soul Train host Don Corneliusand basketball player Wilt Chamberlain.
In 1998, Grier was engaged to RCA Records executive Kevin Evans, but the engagement ended in 1999.
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.
|1970||Beyond the Valley of the Dolls||Partygoer||Russ Meyer|
|1971||The Big Doll House||Grear||Jack Hill|
|Women in Cages||Alabama||Gerardo de León|
|1972||The Twilight People||Ayesa||Eddie Romero|
|Cool Breeze||Mona||Barry Pollack|
|The Big Bird Cage||Blossom||Jack Hill|
|Hit Man||Gozelda||George Armitage|
|1973||Black Mama White Mama||Lee Daniels||Eddie Romero|
|Coffy||Nurse Flower Child 'Coffy' Coffin||Jack Hill|
|Scream Blacula Scream||Lisa Fortier||Bob Kelljan|
|1974||The Arena||Mamawi||Steve Carver|
|Foxy Brown||Foxy Brown||Jack Hill|
|1975||Sheba, Baby||Sheba Shayne||William Girdler|
|Friday Foster||Friday Foster||Arthur Marks|
|1977||Greased Lightning||Mary Jones||Michael Schultz|
|Twilight of Love||Sandra||Luigi Scattini|
|1981||Fort Apache, The Bronx||Charlotte||Daniel Petrie|
|1983||Something Wicked This Way Comes||Dust Witch||Jack Clayton|
|Tough Enough||Myra||Richard Fleischer|
|1985||Stand Alone||Cathryn Bolan||Alan Beattie|
|1986||The Vindicator||Hunter||Jean-Claude Lord|
|On the Edge||Cora||Rob Nilsson|
|1987||The Allnighter||Sgt. McLeesh||Tamar Simon Hoffs|
|1988||Above the Law||Detective Delores 'Jacks' Jackson||Andrew Davis|
|1989||The Package||Ruth Butler||Andrew Davis|
|1990||Class of 1999||Ms. Connors||Mark L. Lester|
|1991||Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey||Ms. Wardroe||Peter Hewitt|
|1993||Posse||Phoebe||Mario Van Peebles|
|1996||Original Gangstas||Laurie Thompson||Larry Cohen|
|Escape from L.A.||Jack 'Carjack' Malone / Hershe Las Palmas||John Carpenter|
|Mars Attacks!||Louise Williams||Tim Burton|
|1997||Fakin' da Funk||Annabelle Lee||Timothy Chey|
|Jackie Brown||Jackie Brown||Quentin Tarantino|
|1999||No Tomorrow||Diane||Master P|
|Jawbreaker||Det. Vera Cruz||Darren Stein|
|In Too Deep||Det. Angela Wilson||Michael Rymer|
|Holy Smoke!||Carol||Jane Campion|
|2000||Snow Day||Tina||Chris Koch|
|Fortress 2: Re-Entry||Susan Mendenhall||Geoff Murphy|
|Wilder||Detective Della Wilder||Rodney Gibbons||Alternate title: Slow Burn|
|2001||Ghosts of Mars||Commander Helena Braddock||John Carpenter|
|Love the Hard Way||Linda||Peter Sehr|
|2002||The Adventures of Pluto Nash||Flura Nash||Ron Underwood|
|2005||Back in the Day||Mrs. Cooper||James Hunter|
|2010||The Invited||Zelda||Ryan McKinney|
|Just Wright||Janice Wright||Sanaa Hamri|
|Machete Maidens Unleashed!||Herself||Mark Hartley|
|2011||Larry Crowne||Frances||Tom Hanks|
|Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel||Herself||Alex Stapelton|
|2012||Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day||Detective Barrick||Neema Barnette|
|Mafia||James Womack||Ryan Combs|
|The Man with the Iron Fists||Jane||RZA|
|2017||Bad Grandmas||Coralee||Srikant Chellappa|
|Being Rose||Lily||Rod McCall|
|1979||Roots: The Next Generations||Francey||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||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||Episode: "Goin' to the Net"|
|1998||Mad TV||Host||Episode: "#3.25"|
|Pinky and the Brain||Julie Auburn (voice)||Episode: "Inherit the Wheeze"|
|Family Blessings||Mrs. Quincy||Television film|
|1998–2000||Linc's||Eleanor Winthrop||Main role; 35 episodes|
|1999||The Wild Thornberrys||Mother Springbok (voice)||Episode: "Stick Your Neck Out"|
|Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child||The Empress' Nightingale (voice)||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 film|
|2002||Night Visions||Dr. Lewis||Episode: "Switch"|
|Justice League||My'ria'h (voice)||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||Main role; 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|
|2018–2019||This Is Us||Grandma||2 episodes|
|2019–2020||Bless This Mess||Constance Terry||Main role; 26 episodes|
|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||Shaolin Shuffle DLC|
|1994||"Doggy Dogg World"||Snoop Dogg||Foxy Brown|
Freddie James Prinze was an American stand-up comedian and actor. Prinze was the star of NBC-TV sitcom Chico and the Man from 1974 until his suicide in 1977. Prinze is the father of actor Freddie Prinze Jr.
Jackie Brown is a 1997 American crime film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring Pam Grier in the title role. The film is an adaptation of Elmore Leonard's 1992 novel Rum Punch. It is the only feature-length film that Tarantino has adapted from a previous work. The film pays homage to 1970s blaxploitation films, particularly the films Coffy (1973) and Foxy Brown (1974), both of which also starred Grier in the title roles.
Terri Juanita Vaughn is an American actress, director and producer. She is best known for her role as high school secretary Lovita Alizé Jenkins-Robinson in The WB sitcom The Steve Harvey Show (1997–2002), for which she received three NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. She later co-starred in the UPN/The CW sitcom All of Us (2003–2005), and TBS sitcom Meet the Browns (2009–2011).
Sanaa McCoy Lathan is an American actress. As a voice actress, from 2009 to 2013, she voiced Donna Tubbs in The Cleveland Show and in all concurrent and subsequent Family Guy appearances. She has starred in many films, including The Best Man (1999) and its 2013 sequel, The Best Man Holiday. Her other film credits include Love & Basketball (2000), Brown Sugar (2002), Alien vs. Predator (2004), Something New (2006), The Family That Preys (2008), Contagion (2011), and Now You See Me 2 (2016).
Erika Rose Alexander is an American actress, writer, producer, entrepreneur and activist best known for her roles as Pam Tucker on the NBC sitcom The Cosby Show (1990–1992), and Maxine Shaw on the FOX sitcom Living Single (1993–1998). She has won numerous awards for her work on Living Single, including two NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series. Her film credits include The Long Walk Home (1990), 30 Years to Life (2001), Déjà Vu (2006) and Get Out (2017).
Golden Ameda Brooks is an American actress. She began her career with starring role in the Showtime comedy series, Linc's (1998–2000), and later has appeared in films Timecode (2000) and Impostor (2001).
Sharon Epatha Merkerson is an American film, stage, and television actress. She has received numerous high-profile accolades for her work, including an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, four NAACP Image Awards, two Obie Awards and two Tony Award nominations. She is best known for her award-winning portrayal of Lieutenant Anita Van Buren on the NBC police procedural drama series Law & Order, a role she played from 1993 to 2010, appearing in 395 episodes of the series. She is also known for playing Sharon Goodwin in Chicago Med.
Tonya Williams is a Canadian actress, producer, director and activist. Sometimes credited as Tonya Lee Williams, she is best known for her role as Dr. Olivia Barber Winters on the American daytime drama The Young and the Restless from 1990 to 2005 and 2007 to 2012. She is the founder and executive director of Reelworld Film Festival.
Foxy Brown is a 1974 American blaxploitation film written and directed by Jack Hill. It stars Pam Grier as the title character, described by one character as "a whole lot of woman", who showcases unrelenting sexiness while battling the film's villains. The film was released by American International Pictures as a double feature with Truck Turner. The film uses Afrocentric references in clothing and hair. Grier starred in six blaxploitation films for American International Pictures.
Coffy is a 1973 American blaxploitation film written and directed by American filmmaker Jack Hill. The story is about a black female vigilante played by Pam Grier who seeks violent revenge against a heroin dealer responsible for her sister's addiction.
Rain Pryor is an American actress and comedian. She is the daughter of comedian Richard Pryor.
Robert DoQui was an American actor who starred in film and on television. He is best known for his roles as King George in the 1973 film Coffy, starring Pam Grier; as Wade in Robert Altman's 1975 film Nashville; and as Sgt. Warren Reed in the 1987 science fiction film RoboCop, the 1990 sequel RoboCop 2, and the 1993 sequel RoboCop 3. He starred on television and is also known for his voice as Pablo Robertson on the cartoon series Harlem Globetrotters from 1970 to 1973.
Kimberly Elise Trammel is an American film and television actress. She made her feature film debut in Set It Off (1996), and later received critical acclaim for her performance in Beloved (1998).
Sheba, Baby is a 1975 American blaxploitation action film directed by William Girdler and starring Pam Grier and Austin Stoker.
BaadAsssss Cinema is a 2002 TV documentary film directed by Isaac Julien. Julien looks at the Blaxploitation era of the 1970s in this hour-long documentary.
William Girdler was an American filmmaker. In a span of six years, from 1972 to 1978, he directed nine feature films in such genres as horror and action. Girdler also wrote and produced three of his features, Abby, Sheba, Baby and The Manitou.
Get Christie Love! is an American crime drama TV series starring Teresa Graves as an undercover African-American female detective which originally aired on ABC from January 22, 1974, until April 5, 1975. The starring television role made Graves the second African-American female lead in a U.S. network drama, after Diahann Carroll in Julia. The series is based on Dorothy Uhnak's crime-thriller novel The Ledger.
Black Mama White Mama is a 1973 women in prison film directed by Eddie Romero and starring Pam Grier and Margaret Markov. The film has elements of blaxploitation. The movie also was released as Hot, Hard and Mean.
Linc's is an American comedy-drama based in a bar in Washington D.C.. The series starred Steven Williams, Pam Grier and Golden Brooks, and aired on Showtime for two seasons from 1998 to 2000 before being cancelled. After cancellation, it was briefly syndicated on Showtime's former sister network BET.
Blaxploitation is an ethnic subgenre of the exploitation film that emerged in the United States during the early 1970s. The term, a portmanteau of the words “black,” and “exploitation,” was coined in August 1972 by Junius Griffin, then president of the Beverly Hills-Hollywood NAACP branch. He so named it because he claimed the genre was “proliferating offenses” to the black community in its perpetuation of stereotypical characters often involved in criminal activity. However, the genre does rank among the first in which black characters and communities are the heroes and subjects of film and television, rather than sidekicks, villains, or victims of brutality. The genre's inception coincides with the rethinking of race relations in the 1970s.
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