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Pam Grier
Born Pamela Suzette Grier
May 26, 1949 (1949-05-26) (age 60)
Winston-Salem, North Carolina, United States
Occupation Actress
Years active 1970–present

Pamela Suzette "Pam" Grier (born May 26, 1949) is an American actress. She came to fame in the early 1970s, after starring in a string of moderately successful women in prison films and blaxploitation films such as 1974's Foxy Brown. Her career was revitalized in 1997 after her appearance in Quentin Tarantino's film Jackie Brown. She is one of a few African American actresses to have received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. She has also been nominated for a SAG as well as a Satellite Award for her performance in the iconic film Jackie Brown. She received an Emmy Award nomination for her work in an Animated Program Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Ever Child. Rotten Tomatoes has ranked her as the second Greatest Female Action Heroine in film history.[1] Director Quentin Tarantino, in an interview promoting Jackie Brown on Charlie Rose, remarked that she may well have been cinema's first female action star.

Contents

Biography

Early life

Grier was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the daughter of Gwendolyn Sylvia (née Samuels), a homemaker and nurse, and Clarence Ransom Grier, who worked as a mechanic and Technical Sergeant in the United States Air Force. She has one sister and one brother.[2] 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 there she appeared in a number of stage productions, and participated in beauty contests to raise money for college tuition toward Metropolitan State College. She is the cousin of National Football League great Rosey Grier and is also related to National Hockey League player Mike Grier.

Career

Grier moved to Los Angeles, California in 1967, where she was initially hired as a receptionist at the American International Pictures (AIP) company. She was 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 roles, 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 all male. In his review of Coffy, film critic Roger Ebert noted that Grier was an actress of "beautiful face and astonishing form" and that she possessed a kind of "physical life" missing from other actresses.[3] Grier subsequently played similar characters in the AIP films Foxy Brown (1974), Friday Foster, and Sheba, Baby (both 1975).

With the demise of blaxploitation, Grier appeared in smaller roles for many years. She acquired progressively larger character roles in the 1980s, including a 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 made guest appearances on Miami Vice, 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. She also appeared on Sinbad, Preston Chronicles, The Cosby Show, The Wayans Brother Show, and Mad TV. In 1994, Grier appeared in Snoop Doggy Dogg's video for Doggy Dogg World.

According to The Lives of John Lennon by Albert Goldman, she was at the famed Troubadour night club in Hollywood the night Lennon was ejected for drunkenly heckling the Smothers Brothers.

In the late 1990s Grier was a cast member of the Showtime series Linc's. She again appeared in 1997 with the title role in Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown, a film that partly paid homage to her '70s blaxploitation movies. As of 2004, she appears in the cable television series The L Word as Kit Porter and 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 sci-fi series Smallville as the villain Amanda Waller, also known as White Queen, head agent of Checkmate, a covert operations agency.

Personal life

Grier dated basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during the early 1970s and had a six-month affair with actor/comedian Richard Pryor around 1976-77. She was also romantically linked to actor/comedian Freddie Prinze in the 1970s. In 1998, she was engaged to music executive Kevin Evans, but the engagement was called off in 1999. From 2000 to 2008, she dated marketing executive Peter Hempel.

Filmography

Nominated NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series(2004)

Year Title Role Notes
1970 Beyond the Valley of the Dolls Partygoer
1971 Women in Cages Alabama
The Big Doll House Grear
1972 Hit Man Gozelda
Black Mama, White Mama Lee Daniels
The Big Bird Cage Blossom
Cool Breeze Mona
|1973 The Arena Mamawi
Scream Blacula Scream Lisa
Coffy Coffy
The Twilight People Ayesa, the Panther Woman
1974 Foxy Brown Foxy Brown
1975 Friday Foster Friday Foster
Bucktown Aretha
Sheba, Baby Sheba Shayne
1976 Drum Regine
1977 Greased Lightning Mary Jones
1981 Fort Apache the Bronx Charlotte
1983 Something Wicked This Way Comes Dust Witch
Tough Enough Myra
1984 The Vindicator Hunter
1985 On the Edge Cora
Miami Vice Valerie Gordon
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
1993 Posse Phoebe
1996 Mars Attacks! Louise Williams
Escape from L.A. Hershe Las Palmas
Original Gangstas Laurie Thompson
1997 Jackie Brown Jackie Brown San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
Nominated Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated Satellite Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated SAG Award for Best Actress
Nominated Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
Nominated Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture
Nominated Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
Nominated Silver Bear for Best Actress
1997 Fakin' da Funk Annnabelle Lee
1999 Holy Smoke! Carol
In Too Deep Det. Angela Wilson
Linc's Nominated NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series (1999)
Nominated NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series (2000)
Jawbreaker Detective Vera Cruz
2000 Snow Day Tina
3 AM Nominated NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special (2002)
Wilder Detective Della Wilder
Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Ever Child Nominated Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program
2001 Ghosts of Mars Commander Helena Braddock
Bones Pearl Nominated Black Reel Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture
2002 The Adventures of Pluto Nash Flura Nash
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Asst. US Attorney Claudia Williams
2003 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Asst. US Attorney Claudia Williams Nominated NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
2004 - 2009 The L Word Kate "Kit" Porter Nominated NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2005)
Nominated NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2006)
2005 Back in the Day Mrs. Cooper
2008 Ladies of the House (TV movie) Birdie
2010 Smallville Agent Amanda Waller Three episodes: "Legends," "Checkmate" and "Sacrifice"
The Invited[4] Zelda

Discography

References

External links








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