Pam Grier was the blaxploitation queen of the 70′s. She was strong, sexy, and took no bullsh*t from anyone on film. She was super-bad! Pam was well known for a string of blaxploitation movie hits such as, Coffy (1973), Bucktown (1975), Sheba Baby (1975), and Foxy Brown (1974). Pam Grier was one of the very few African American women that appealed to such a wide audience in the 70′s. With a great body and a “take no bull from anyone” attitude on screen, her career busted through the movie scene like a freight train. However, when I became a fan of Pam (I was barely a teenager, but old enough to understand) I was worried that she would become typecasted like so many African American women did before her.
You see, although I was very happy that I wasn’t seeing the same o’l actresses playing the same o’l black maids, and or poverty stricken mothers/wives, Pam was a whole different animal all together. Before the seventies black women were not seen as sexy creatures that could actually act, be talented, and blow-up the box offices at the same time; the mindset just wasn’t there yet. Well, actually, we did have Tamara Dobson (Cleopatra Jones), but, she did not have the same sex appeal like Pam did. Dobson’s image was more of a sophisticated black woman with money, were-as Pam, was more raunchy and not scared of her sexuality. Pam Grier became a cash cow, and unfortunately the types of characters that Pam Grier played, replicated on so many of her other movies in the seventies. She was either taking revenge for a boyfriend, fighting other women in a lesbian bar, playing the feisty hooker who’s goal is to kill the “John”, or taking down some female Madame or female drug lord that looks like either Shirley Winters, or twiggy, or found any excuse to run around topless by the end of the movie. LOL..
However, Pam’s career did not seem to be effected by this typecast. She was what people wanted to see. She made straight men drool, empowered black women around the world, and became a gay icon all at the same time LOL. She made so much money for the film industry and won very few awards for her hard work. She has made a few TV appearances on “Law & Order”, “Cosby Show”, and done some cartoon voice-overs for “the Justice League”. She re-emerged as an older, wiser, and reserved Foxy Brown, in a movie called “Jackie Brown”. Jackie Brown was a very good with a number of stars in it. It didn’t have as much action as I thought it was, it is is a great watch for Pam Grier fans. Pam now is in her sixties and still is looking good these days. She is a Cancer survivor, and if I am correct, she is currently on the tv show “The L-Word”.
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The song called “Stormy Weather” was one of Lena Horne’s first recordings, and has made her an international success. The song still remains to be one of her most memorable recordings. It also happens to be one of my favorites songs from that era. Many of my blog members may not know that, a lot of African American people hated Lena early on in her career, because it was said she tried to pass as white, therefore her audience base was primarily Caucasian. Keep in mind in those days they still had “colored” bathroom signs, so it was quite a bit of tension between the obvious black people and the “passable coloreds”. The average person today can’t fathom the unbelievable amount of pressure, that African Americans of film had, to represent people of color as real human beings; beings with emotion, passion, whit, and true acting ability. People of color not only had to deal with levels of unconceivable racism outside television and theater, but also type casting within the theatre; to be seen more than just a maid, butler, slave, a shield, or a brainless dummy who can be used as bait. Listen to the original recording of “Stormy Weather” Taken from the titled movie “Stormy Weather (1943) Click Here. Enjoy.
Mae West (August 17, 1893 – November 22, 1980) was an American actress, playwright, screenwriter, and sex symbol. Known for her bawdy double entendres, West made a name for herself in Vaudeville and on the stage in New York before moving to Hollywood to become a comedienne, actress and writer in the motion picture industry. One of the more controversial stars of her day, West encountered many problems including censorship.
When her cinematic career ended, she continued to perform on stage, in Las Vegas, in the United Kingdom, on radio and television, and recorded rock and roll albums. She was born Mary Jane West in Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York City. She was the daughter of John Patrick West and Matilda “Tillie” Doelger (also spelled Delker).
Pamela Suzette “Pam” Grier (born May 26, 1949) is an American actress. She came to fame in the early 1970s, after starring in a string of moderately successful women in prison films and blaxploitation films, starring in B-movies such as 1974′s Foxy Brown. Her career was revitalized in 1997 after her appearance in Quentin Tarantino’s film Jackie Brown.
Grier was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, U.S., the daughter of Gwendolyn Sylvia (née Samuels), a homemaker and nurse, and Clarence Ransom Grier, who worked as a mechanic and Technical Sergeant in the United States Air Force. Grier is African-American, and also has Native American, European, and Asian ancestry. She has one sister and one brother, and is a cousin of football player Rosey Grier. Because of her father’s military career, her family moved frequently during her childhood, to various places such as England, and eventually settled in Denver, Colorado, where she attended East High School. While there she appeared in a number of stage productions, and participated in beauty contests to raise money for college tuition toward Metropolitan State College.
Grier moved to Los Angeles, California in 1967, where she was initially hired as a receptionist at the American International Pictures company. She was discovered by director Roger Corman, who cast her in his women in prison films The Big Doll House (1971) and The Big Bird Cage (1972). She became a staple of early 1970s blaxploitation movies, playing big, bold, buxom roles, beginning with 1973′s Coffy, 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 a film, as protagonists of previous blaxploitation films were all male. 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 films Foxy Brown (1974), Friday Foster, and Sheba, Baby (both 1975).
With the demise of blaxploitation, Grier’s career went on hiatus for many years. She acquired 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 and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and also had a recurring role in the TV series Crime Story between 1986 and 1988. Read more on Wikipedia.
Brando, was born April 3, 1924, and died July 1 2004. Movies include, “A streetcar named desire”, and “On the water front”. However, I think the world today, best known him, in his outstanding role as Vito Corleone, in the movie “The Godfather (Widescreen Edition)“. Even today, I don’t think that anybody can come close, to the brilliant acting he’s displayed in that role. In his personal life, Mr. Brando was a huge activist for civil rights. He was also named, “The greatest Male Star of all time” by the American film Institute.