Pam Grier was a struggling UCLA film student in the late 1960s when she got an intriguing offer.
To pay for school she was working part time as a switchboard operator at a casting agency. An agent told her that producer Roger Corman was looking for an actress. Corman’s New World Pictures was one of Hollywood’s chief suppliers of “B” movies — mostly action-packed genre films.
The agent told her Corman was “looking for someone who is kind of in-your-face.” And the agent thought Grier had just the right look for that — “raw, unpolished and natural” was what he told her.
But Grier was skeptical. “I’m a student — a starving student — with one skirt and one blouse and an...