The “Femme Fatale” segment on NoirWhale.com is designed to highlight the life and merits of exceptional film noir actresses. These women are the embodiment of the femme fatale archetype, and propel possibly the most recognizable and integral theme in the noir genre.
“I’ve never considered myself to be beautiful, and I still don’t.”
Pam Grier became famous in the early 1970’s after starring in a string of moderately successful “blaxploitation” films. The most famous of these being the iconic Coffy (1973) and Foxy Brown (1974). The impact she has left on the film noir/neo-noir industry is immeasurable, especially in a genre where the powerful femme fatale archetype had been dominated by white glamour girls from Hollywood. Pam proved that she had the sexy, sultry, provocative chops of any starlet…and then some.
Pamela Suzette Grier was born on May 26th 1949 in North Carolina. Tragically, at age six she was raped by two boys when she was left unattended at her aunt’s house. She said of the event, “It took so long to deal with the pain of that. You try to deal with it, but you never really get over it. And not just me; my family endured so much guilt and anger that something like that happened to me.” Her family moved frequently because her father Clarence worked as a mechanic and technical sergeant in the United States Air Force. Pam’s childhood was spent on various military bases, until finally they settled in Denver, Colorado where she attended high school.
Ms. Grier moved to California in 1967 where she was discovered by the director Jack Hill. She was quickly type-cast as powerful female characters, becoming the first black female to headline in an action film. Roger Ebert said of her performance in Coffy (1973) that she had a “beautiful face and astonishing form.” She continued to work in various films throughout the blaxploitation era and beyond.
Her most famous relationships have been with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Richard Pryor.
She was thrust into the spotlight again in 1997 when she starred in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, a film that partly paid homage to the blaxploitation films of her youth. She received a Golden Globe nomination for the role. Additionally, the film review site RottenTomatoes.com has ranked her as the second Greatest Female Action Heroine in film history. Although she never starred in anything we would consider “film noir” I’m proud to add her to the growing list of femme fatales on noirWhale.com and count her as one of the first black femme fatales.
“Each time you do a film you gain a lot of experience and build a visual resume where people get to know who you are.”
Pam Grier is a breathtaking, beautiful, and powerful femme fatale.