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Black History Month
The part Black, White, Asian and Native American Pamala Suzette "Pam" Grier was born May 26, 1949, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to Gwendolyn Sylvia and Clarence Ransom Grier. She has two siblings; one brother and a sister. Her mother was a nurse and homemaker, and her father a mechanic and Technical Sergeant in the United States Air Force. Because of his job, the family was forced to move several times throughout England, and finally settling in
. Greir attended
East High School
, where she made her mark in play productions, and beauty pageants to raise money to attend Metropolitan State College in Denver at the age of 18. In one of her beauty pageants, she caught the eye of Dave Baumgarten who was an agent from Hollywood. He urged her to come to Hollywood with him because of the need for black actors, but she declined. After persuasion from her mother, however, Greir agreed to go and Dave became her agent. At readings, she was told she was not "Negro enough," that the space between her two front teeth might register too distracting on film, and that she was overweight or too thin. Pam never gave up, however. She became a receptionist at the American International Picture's (AIP) Agency and after being an extra on
Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls
, she was discovered by director Roger Corman, who cast her in his women in prison films
The Big Doll House
The Big Bird Cage
(1972), and the gladiator film
Pamela's chosen career path was entertainment, mainly in the motion picture field. Pamela Greir overcame obstacles of racism and discrimination to move her way up through the motion picture industry and star in several
films. She used determination to climb up the entertainment ladder and it rewarded her with fame. Grier's explosive performance as Coffy in the film of the same name shot her into stardom. Following its tremendous success, AIP ushered out more films starring Grier as voluptuous vigilante "Foxy Brown", "Sheba, Baby", and "Friday Foster". All were huge successes, but Grier soon grew tired of the one-dimensional role of an "ass-kickin" black sex goddess. After
, which fulfilled her contract with AIP, she abandoned the studio. She went on to gain several supporting roles, such as the wife of Richard Pryer in
, and a role in the Mandingo sequel,
. Pam soon became dissatisfied with the turn her career had taken, and went on hiatus for several years to hone her acting skills.
She gained 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, Night Court
The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
, and also had a recurring role in the TV series
between 1986 and 1988. In 1997, Greir returned again with the title role in
, a film that partly paid homage to her '70s blaxploitation movies. Tarantino wrote the story for the film with Pamela specifically in mind for the lead role.
Pamela's most important contribution to our society are her skills in the acting and entertainment films. Grier has given women as a whole the ability to become something that was originally thought to be just for men: Powerful. Strong. Independant. Even if the unique, alluring beauty and remarkable talent of Pam Grier is utilized and appreciated in more films now than ever, Pam still reflects on the importance of her earlier films. "People weren't used to seeing a female lead in an action movie, and I think a lot of them related to the independence my characters showed...It's really an honor to know that new audiences are discovering my old movies," Pam affirms.
"Pam Grier star bio." Tribute.ca | Movie Listings | Showtimes. 19 Feb. 2009 <
"Pam Grier - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 19 Feb. 2009 <
Greir, Pamela. www.taylormade.com. Digital image. [Pamela Greir]. None. 19 Feb. 2009 <
Greir, Pamela. Buioomega. Digital image. [Pamela Greir]. 0. Unknown. 19 Feb. 2009 <
Brown, Foxy. Photobucket. Digital image. [Foxy Brown]. 0. Unknown. 19 Feb. 2009 <
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