Considered one of the most prolific heroines of the 1970s, North Carolina-born actress Pam Grier is often lauded as the first female action movie star. She made her film debut in 1970 as an extra in Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls before her major roles in Jack Hill’s Coffy and Foxy Brown, as well as starring in Quentin Tarantino’s crime thriller Jackie Brown.
Many of her leading roles were in a subgenre of film dubbed “blaxploitation”—named from combining “black” and “exploitation”—that marked a period of 1970s movies which attempted to appeal to Black audiences. Aside from kicking ass and taking names on-screen, Grier made a miraculous recovery from a grim stage four cervical cancer diagnosis and continues to act today. In honor of the industry icon’s 72nd birthday, here are Grier’s most memorable roles… read more >