Best known for her leading roles in "Blaxpoitation" films in the 1970s, actress Pamela Suzette Grier was born May 26, 1949, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Grier was a daughter to a nurse and a mechanic in the U.S. Air Force. Due to her father's job she moved around as a child. Her family eventually settled in Denver. In high school, she participated in stage productions, beauty contests and used the money to pay for college tuition.
In 1967, Grier was hired as a receptionist at the American International Pictures company. While working there she was discovered by Jack Hill, a director. He gave her her first big break in films The Big Doll House and The Big Bird Cage.
Grier was known for playing assertive, strong and tough characters, most notably in Coffy (1973) and Foxy Brown (1974). As the popularity of "Blackpoitation" films dwindled, Grier appeared in several television series, including Linc's, The L Word and guest starred in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Her role in Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown paid homage to her films in the 1970s.
Away from film, Grier has received a number of awards from universities including an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Langston University. In 2011, Grier started the Pam Grier Community Garden and Education Center in Dallas.
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(Photo: Ben Rose/PictureGroup)