It’s hard to describe Pam Grier without using the adjective legendary. Trevor Noah gave the actress her props on The Daily Show, saying that her career set the tone for future female action heroes. He interviewed her about The Plot Thickens, the Turner Classic Movies podcast that Grier is the subject of in season four.
Grier, now 73, is the Blaxploitation superstar who became one of the first female action movie stars in the ’70s, starring in movies like Foxy Brown, Coffy, Sheba Baby, and more. Years after her heyday, Quentin Tarantino helped engineer a comeback by writing the starring role in the movie Jackie Brown for her in 1997.
Grier’s multiple roles as independent female characters who weren’t afraid to kick ass made her a pop culture legend and it transferred over to her offscreen life. Despite dating other stars of the era like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Freddie Prinze, and Richard Pryor, Grier never married or had children. In her 2010 memoir Foxy: My Life in Three Acts, she said she has no regrets.
On The Plot Thickens, she tells the story of her life in her own words. Hosted by Ben Mankiewicz, her season is peppered with stories about her adventures in Hollywood, including encounters with Sly Stone and Jimi Hendrix.
“I’m sleeping in a garage trying to get into film school in L.A.,” Grier recounts to Noah. “OK, you’re going to be singing with Sylvester Stewart,” her manager tells her. Her response is, “I can do it – I sang gospel in Denver, I played keyboard.”’
She’s then introduced to Stewart, who the world knows better as Sly Stone.
“Fro, bass, jamming,” she says of her impression of their initial meeting. “On drums in the back, Buddy Miles. He’d already started Band of Gypsys. I get to sing, go to sleep. [Then the] elevator’s opening, and there’s a big Black guy in the center in a hat with two white guys on the side walking down the hall. I smell patchouli oil. It’s Jimi Hendrix and the Band of Gypsys coming to jam with Sly and the Family Stone.”
Grier also talked to Noah about her relationship with comedy icon Richard Pryor, telling a story about the time they drove an injured horse to the veterinarian after putting it in the back seat of her Jaguar. Grier is a longtime animal lover, and she said Pryor found the whole scenario, which included Grier and a row of cars following them to direct the couple to a vet, hilarious.
He told her, “Pam, you the funniest b-tch I know. You funnier than me.”
Pryor and Grier’s relationship ended over his drug use, which contributed to his death in 2005 at the age of 65. She tells Noah, “You don’t abandon people you love. You abandon people you’re using. And I never used him.”
Grier’s The Plot Thickens is available via Apple, Spotify, and other podcast providers and is also on YouTube.
Watch The Daily Show interview below:
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