Best Known For
Pam Grier is best known for acting in many "blaxploitation" films in the 1970s.
Pam Grier stops a vicious mugging in a Denver parking lot.
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Actress Pam Grier made her name starring in 1970s "blaxploitation" films— films geared towards African Americans, and based on stereotypes of urban black life. Playing prisoners, criminals, and prostitutes, Grier's most notable roles were in Coffy and Foxy Brown. Criticized for her blaxploitation roles,
Grier experienced a career comeback as the title character in 1997's Jackie Brown.
Actress. Pamela Suzette Grier was born on May 26, 1949, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Her mother was a nurse and her father was a mechanic in the United States Air Force. Due to her father's job, the family moved around from base to base often during Grier's childhood, including spending several years in England, before settling down in Denver, Colorado, after her father left the military. Raised in a strict, conservative household, Grier says that she was raised with a rural sensibility, learning to "sleep in a tent at night in the rain and go fish for your food in the morning." And growing up in a rough working-class Denver neighborhood, she also learned to stand up for herself. "Denver was tough," Grier recalls. "That was where I learned you had to fight all the time. I mean fight for your lunch money or act like you didn't have any. I used to keep mine in my sock. It was pretty rough for a kid who had been sheltered on Air Force bases, but I am a quick study."
Growing up, Grier was a good student who dreamed of becoming a doctor. "When I was a young girl, I never thought of acting," she remembers. "I never thought of television, of fans, movie stars, signing autographs. It never crossed my mind."
Only very recently, in her 2010 memoir Foxy: My Life in Three Acts, did Grier reveal that she also silently endured two incidents of sexual assault. She was raped by a group of older students when she was only six years old, and at the age of 18 she was the victim of a date rape. Fearing repercussions on her family, Grier never said a word to anyone about either incident until she sat down to write her memoirs as an adult. "I wanted others out there to understand the emotional trauma that is involved in sexual aggression and abuse and that not all of us get over it or even survive the abuse," she says about her decision to finally reveal the incidents. "I have that opportunity to speak about this as the icon—the object and let others know that in spite of it all, I am still here."
In 1967, Grier entered the Colorado state competition for the Miss Universe Beauty Pageant and placed third. She then entered another beauty contest at a Colorado Springs hotel where she was spotted by agent Dave Baumgarten, who invited her to travel to Hollywood to try her hand at acting. After initially declining, Grier eventually decided to accept the offer at the encouragement of her mother.
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