Pam Grier 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 (since 1973), The Arena (1974), Sheba, Baby (1975), Bucktown (1975) and Friday Foster (since 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.
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. Moreover, Grier has stated that she is of mixed ancestry consisting of African-American, Hispanic, Chinese, Filipino, and Cheyenne heritage.
Grier moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1967, where she was initially hired to work the switchboard at American International Pictures (AIP). Moreover, 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. Further, playing big, bold, assertive women, beginning with Jack Hill’s Coffy (since 1973). Likewise, 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!”. Likewise, the film, which was filled with sexual and violent elements typical of the genre, was a box-office hit. Similarly, Grier is considered to be the first African-American female to headline an action film. Likewise, 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. Likewise, Grier subsequently played similar characters in the AIP films Foxy Brown (1974), Sheba, Baby, and Friday Foster (both 1975).
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, and he got married that day.
Grier met comedian Freddie Prinze while promoting her film Coffy in 1973. They fell in love and considered marriage. Likewise, Prinze wanted her to have his baby, but she was reluctant due to his history of depression and drug addiction. Moreover, 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.
- Full Name: Pamela Suzette Grier
- Date of Birth: May 26, 1949
- Age: 70
- Birth Place: Winston-Salem, North Carolina, U.S.
- Nationality: American
- Education: East High School, Metropolitan State College
- Occupation: Actress
- Years active: since 1970–present
- Known for: Coffy, Foxy Brown, Sheba Baby, Friday Foster, Jackie Brown
- Height: 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
- Partner(s): Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1969–1971), Freddie Prinze (since 1973–1975), Richard Pryor (1976–1977), Kevin Evans (1997–1999)
- Awards San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress – Jackie Brown
- Height: 1.73 m
- Nationality: American
- Awards: San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress – Jackie Brown
- Parents: Gwendolyn Grier, Clarence Grier
- Net Worth: $10 million
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Reference Net Worth of Pam Grier