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This Day In History: May 26th
Outside of being respected icons, one might wonder what else actress Pam Grier and musician Lauryn Hill have in common. The two women also share a birthday together. Grier was born on May 26, 1949, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, while Hill was born on May 26, 1975, in East Orange, New Jersey.
Pamela Suzette Grier was born in North Carolina, but her family relocated to Europe when she was five years old. The family moved around Europe before settling in Denver, Colorado. In 1967, she enrolled in Denver’s Metropolitan State College and was also the second runner-up in the 1967 Miss Colorado pageant.
The following year, Grier moved to California and landed a small role in the movie Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. She soon transitioned to feature films and made an appearance in The Big Doll House. By 1973, the actress was well on her way to stardom after starring in the film Coffy and earning a contract with American International Pictures. Over the next two years, Grier released Foxy Brown, Sheba, Baby and Friday Foster.
Grier decided to attend the University of California to study directing and producing. She continued acting and landed a recurring role on Miami Vice from 1985-1989. In 1997, Grier released her film Jackie Brown, which was directed by Quentin Tarantino. She received an NAACP Image Award and a Golden Globe Award nomination for her role in the film. Grier also introduced herself to a new generation of fans by appearing in the ABC series, Bless This Mess in 2019.
Just 26 years after the birth of Pam Grier, another star was born on the same day. Lauryn Noelle Hill was born in New Jersey, but her family moved around the tri-state area. Her musical talents were shown from a young age through her singing at school and the Apollo Theater. She connected with Prakazrel “Pras” Michel and his cousin, Wyclef Jean, to form a music group. They were originally called Tranzlator Crew, but would later change the name to the Fugees.
Hill served as the lead singer and she also taught herself how to rap. During this time, she also pursued acting and landed a recurring role on the soap opera As the World Turns. She also earned a featured role alongside Whoopi Goldberg in the film Sister Act II: Back in the Habit. She decided to enroll at Columbia University in 1993 but only attended for a year before pursuing a music career. The Fugees released their first album, Blunted on Reality, in 1994, but it would be their second album, The Score (1996), that propels them to new heights.
The album included the hit single “Killing Me Softly,” and sold 17 million copies. The Fugees became the highest-selling rap group of all time and won two Grammy awards. She released her solo project, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998), which was well-received by fans and critics. She established herself as a solo artist and the album has sold more than 19 million copies worldwide. The album won her five Grammys, three American Music Awards, a Billboard Award, a Soul Train Award and an MTV Music Award. Her career was short-lived, but her debut album has kept her a relevant force in the music industry and sustained her legacy.