Reflecting on doing her own stunts in the ground-breaking blaxploitation 1970s films “Coffy” and “Foxy Brown,” actress Pam Grier says she never really considered the risks.
“We couldn’t afford stunt people and we certainly didn’t have stunt women back then,” Grier told Intel Wednesday morning.
“It really wasn’t until I broke my ankle on the set of ‘Coffy’ and they painted my cast to look like a boot that I even gave it a thought!”
Grier is in Atlanta today to sign copies of her memoir, a riveting page turner titled, “Foxy: My Life in Three Acts” (Hachette, $24.99).
The legendary 61-year-old says she didn’t stop to consider the societal impact her crime-busting, karate-kicking, Alpha female, African-American roles were having until Gloria Steinem put her on the cover of Ms. magazine in 1975.
“All I knew was that filmmakers were interested in making women the leads in the films because there was an audience there. I loved the fact that these women I was playing were forceful but without giving up their femininity or their sexuality. I look at actresses today like Angelina Jolie and I’m proud.”
Grier says it was her co-stars on the late, lamented Showtime series “The L Word” who finally convinced her to write a memoir.
Why did Grier herself never consider the assignment?
“Because it’s a lot of hard work!” she allows, laughing. “You’ve got to see your therapist, you’ve got to drink a lot of wine. It’s hard to look back on all of that. But I knew it had to be honest and that the book had to serve a purpose. It had to function to inform and help others.”
One of the most hilarious sequences of “Foxy” involves Grier, her then-boyfriend comic Richard Pryor, Pryor’s injured miniature horse named Ginger, Grier’s 1974 yellow Jaguar XJ6 L and a desperate race to the vet.
“There we were, two black people in the front seat, Richard screaming and crying, a horse sprawled out in the back and a crazy woman driving!” Grier recalls laughing. “I cannot even imagine what people thought!”
A less flattering portrait of Sammy Davis Jr. emerges in “Foxy” when Grier recounts how the performer became all hands with her at a cocktail party in front of his wife Altovise and guests Liza Minnelli and Elizabeth Taylor.
“I just remember being told, ‘Oh, that’s just Sammy. He’s harmless.’ But it wasn’t to me. I felt uncomfortable and I wanted to leave.”
Minnelli and her date ended up sneaking Grier out of the party in the back seat of Minnelli’s Rolls Royce with Grier hiding on the back seat under a full-length sable coat.
Says Grier: “Most people live their entire lives with one or two really outrageous things that happen to them. But these were routine occurrences in my life. It makes for a good book though!”
Pam Grier will sign copies of “Foxy” Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Outwrite Books in Midtown and at Borders in Buckhead tonight at 7:30 p.m.