Feature

Pam Grier’s unfortunate romances

Grier's strangest experience in romance came courtesy of basketball star Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr., now known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Pam Grier hasn’t had much luck with famous men, said Larry Getlen in the New York Post. The actress, best known for her roles in 1970s blaxploitation films Foxy Brown and Coffy, met comedian Freddie Prinze during the height of her fame, and considered marrying him until he got involved with drugs. “Coke was becoming a daily thing for Freddie and the rest of his friends, but I couldn’t accept it,” she says. She then took up with Richard Pryor, who was also a heavy user of cocaine. “I’m afraid if I don’t do drugs, I won’t be funny,” he told her. He cleaned himself up for a while, but returned to cocaine six months later.

Her strangest experience in romance, though, came courtesy of basketball star Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr. Not long after they began dating, Alcindor began studying Islam and changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The newly pious Abdul-Jabbar instructed her that women should walk behind men, Grier says, while his fellow converts recoiled from her “as if I had bad breath or a contagious skin disease.’’ Finally, Abdul-Jabbar called Brown with a marriage proposal—but only if she converted. “He said, ‘If you don’t commit to me today, I’m getting married at 2 this afternoon. She’s a converted Muslim.’” Stunned, Brown said thanks, but no thanks. “His choice was religion first,” she says. “I was second.”

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