“PAM GRIER”

Pam 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 women, 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 males. 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. Grier subsequently played similar characters in the AIP films Foxy Brown (1974), Friday Foster, and Sheba, Baby (both 1975).

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