Pam Grier

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Pam Grier
An Evening With Pam Grier (6830131549).jpg
Grier at a reception for "An Evening with Pam Grier" at the Canadian Film Centre, 2012.
BornPamela Suzette Grier
(1949-05-26) May 26, 1949 (age 65)
Winston-Salem, North Carolina, U.S.
NationalityUS American
EducationEast High School
Metropolitan State College
OccupationActress
Years active1970–present
Partner(s)Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1970-72)
Richard Pryor (1976-77)
Kevin Evans (1998-99; engaged)
Awards1997 San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress (Jackie Brown)
 
Jump to: navigation, search
Pam Grier
An Evening With Pam Grier (6830131549).jpg
Grier at a reception for "An Evening with Pam Grier" at the Canadian Film Centre, 2012.
BornPamela Suzette Grier
(1949-05-26) May 26, 1949 (age 65)
Winston-Salem, North Carolina, U.S.
NationalityUS American
EducationEast High School
Metropolitan State College
OccupationActress
Years active1970–present
Partner(s)Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1970-72)
Richard Pryor (1976-77)
Kevin Evans (1998-99; engaged)
Awards1997 San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress (Jackie Brown)

Pamela Suzette "Pam" Grier (born May 26, 1949) is an American actress. She became famous in the early 1970s after starring in a string of moderately successful women in prison and blaxploitation films like The Big Bird Cage (1972), Coffy (1973), Foxy Brown (1974) and Sheba Baby (1975). Her career was revitalized in 1997 after her appearance in Quentin Tarantino's film Jackie Brown, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. She has also been nominated for a SAG Award as well as a Satellite Award for her performance in Jackie Brown. Grier is also known for her work on television, for 6 seasons she portrayed Kate 'Kit' Porter on the television series The L Word. She received an Emmy Award nomination for her work in the animated program Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child. Rotten Tomatoes has ranked her as the second greatest female action heroine in film history.[1] Director Quentin Tarantino remarked that she may have been cinema's first female action star.[citation needed]

Early life[edit]

Pam Grier was born 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.[2] Grier has said, "I'm a mix of several races: Hispanic, Chinese, Filipino. My dad was black, and my mom was Cheyenne Indian."[3]

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."[3]

Because of her father's military career, her family moved frequently during her childhood, to various places such as England, and eventually settled in Denver, Colorado, where she attended East High School. While in Denver, Colorado she appeared in a number of stage productions, and participated in beauty contests to raise money for college tuition at Metropolitan State College.

Grier is the cousin of All-Pro Los Angeles Rams National Football League player Rosey Grier. She dated comedian Richard Pryor, basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and actor Freddie Prinze.[1]

Career[edit]

Grier moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1967, where she was initially hired as a receptionist at the American International Pictures (AIP) company.[citation needed] It is believed that she was discovered by director Jack Hill,[citation needed] 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, and Grier was noted as the first African-American female to headline an action film, as protagonists of previous blaxploitation films were males. In his review of Coffy, film critic Roger Ebert praised the film for its believable female lead and 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.[4] 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), and Steven Seagal's detective partner in Above the Law (1988). She had a recurring role on Miami Vice from 1985–1989, and has made guest appearances on Martin, Night Court and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and also 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".[5] She also 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, both films that partly paid homage to her '70s 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 recently appeared as a friend and colleague to Julia Roberts' college professor in Larry Crowne. Also in 2010, Grier wrote her memoir, Foxy: My Life in Three Acts, with Andrea Cagan.[6]

Personal life[edit]

She dated basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during the early 1970s, and had an 18-month affair with actor/comedian Richard Pryor around 1976–77. She also was romantically linked to actor/comedian Freddie Prinze in the 1970s.[6] In 1998 she was engaged to music executive Kevin Evans, but the engagement ended in 1999. From 2000 to 2008 she dated marketing executive Peter Hempel.[citation needed] She received her 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.[citation needed] She started the Pam Grier Community Garden and Education Center with the National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum.[citation needed]

Filmography[edit]

YearTitleRoleNotes
1970Beyond the Valley of the DollsPartygoer
1971The Big Doll HouseGrear
Women in CagesAlabama
1972Hit ManGozelda
The Big Bird CageBlossom
Cool BreezeMona
1973Black Mama White MamaLee Daniels
Scream Blacula ScreamLisa
CoffyCoffy
The Twilight PeopleAyesa, the Panther Woman
1974The ArenaMamawi
Foxy BrownFoxy Brown
1975Sheba, BabySheba Shayne
BucktownAretha
Friday FosterFriday Foster
1976DrumRegine
1977Greased LightningMary Jones
Twilight of LoveSandra
1981Fort Apache, The BronxCharlotte
1983Something Wicked This Way ComesDust Witch
Tough EnoughMyra
1984The VindicatorHunter
1985Badge of the AssassinAlexandra 'Alie' Horn
1986On the EdgeCora
1985–1989Miami ViceValerie Gordon (recurring)
1987The AllnighterSgt. McLeesh
1988Above the LawDelores 'Jacks' Jackson
1989The PackageRuth Butler
1990Class of 1999Ms. Connors
1991Bill & Ted's Bogus JourneyMs. Wardroe
1993PossePhoebe
1993The Fresh Prince of Bel AirJanice Robertson
1996Mars Attacks!Louise Williams
Escape from L.A.Hershe Las Palmas
Original GangstasLaurie Thompson
1997Jackie BrownJackie BrownSan Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated — NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actress — Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Fakin' da FunkAnnabelle Lee
1999Holy Smoke!Carol
In Too DeepDet. Angela Wilson
Linc'sEleanor Braithwaite WinthropNominated — NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series (1999–2000)
JawbreakerDetective Vera Cruz
2000Snow DayTina
3 A.M.GeorgeNominated — Black Reel Award for Best Actress in Network/Cable Series
Nominated — NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special
WilderDetective Della Wilder
Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every ChildThe Empress' NightingaleNominated — Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program
2001Ghosts of MarsCommander Helena Braddock
BonesPearlNominated — Black Reel Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture
2002The Adventures of Pluto NashFlura Nash
Law & Order: Special Victims UnitAsst. US Attorney Claudia WilliamsNominated — NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2003–2004)
2004–2009The L WordKate "Kit" PorterNominated — NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2005–2006, 2008)
2005Back in the DayMrs. Cooper
2008Ladies of the HouseBirdieTelevision film
2010SmallvilleAgent Amanda WallerThree episodes: "Absolute Justice", "Checkmate" and "Sacrifice"
Just WrightJanice Wright
The InvitedZelda
2011Larry CrowneFrances
2012Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th DayDetective Barrick
2012The Man with the Iron FistsJane
2013Grand Theft Auto VHerselfDJ on in-game radio station 'The Lowdown 91.1'

Discography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Total Recall: The 25 Best Action Heroines of All Time". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-08-07. 
  2. ^ Mal Vincent (January 6, 1998). "She'S Back, And She'S Ready To Kick Butt. Pam Grier Is Baaaaaad, And Lord Help The Man Who Doesn'T Take Notice". The Virginian-Pilot Archives (Norfolk, VA). Retrieved October 5, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b John Petkovic, The Plain Dealer (2010-09-18). "Pam Grier, queen of 1970s blaxploitation films, speaks in Cleveland on her book tour". cleveland.com. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  4. ^ "RogerEbert.com". Coffy. Retrieved May 11, 2006. 
  5. ^ "JerryattheMovies". Foxy Brown and Elmer Gantry? Nay, nay. Retrieved March 15, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Lee, Felicia R. (May 4, 2010). "Pam Grier's Collection of Lessons Learned". The New York Times. 

External links[edit]