Teresa Graves is another actor who didn’t do a lot of blaxploitation films, but her impact in the roles she did do is significant. Graves’s biggest claim to fame is converting the concepts used in the films featuring powerful, ass-kicking, black women, like the films of Pam Grier and Tamara Dobson, into a tv show.
The series, Get Christie Love!, lasted just two seasons. It’s cult status is apparent in Quentin Tarantino’s work. There is a scene in Reservoir Dogs several characters have a discussion about the show, and her catchphrase, “You’re under arrest, Shugah,” was recycled in Austin Powers: Goldmember.
Graves got her start on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In. After several more television roles, she had a supporting role in the Fred Williamson film, That Man Bolt. She would work with Williamson again in the movie Black Eye a few years later.
We unfortunately lost Graves to Jehovah, when she focused her energy on spreading the word about her religion. We lost her permanently in 2002, when she died from complications incurred during a house fire.
Get Christie Love Trailer:
Why We Love and Respect Her: We love a woman who knows how to kick ass, and Teresa Graves knew how to do that on film.
Best Known For: being the Pam Grier of TV.
Teresa Graves in That Man Bolt:
Blaxploitation Role Call:
That Man Bolt (1973) as Samantha Nightingale: Samantha is a lounge singer who has a history with Jefferson Bolt. While Bolt is running an “errand” to deliver a briefcase full of cash that might or might not be counterfeit, he visits the casino where Samantha sings. The pair hook up in Bolt’s hotel room, but while bolt is getting his nut, a gunman sneaks in and opens fire. Seeing the gunman in the mirrored walls, Bolt rolls over putting Samantha between him and the bullet. Bolt goes on to battle the corrupt forces behind the cash delivery and her murder.
Old Drac (1974) as Countess Vampira: Originally titled, Vampira, Old Drac underwent a title change after Young Frankenstein hit big at the box office. Is it blaxploitation? Probably not technically, but it does focus heavily on the issue of race and it has Graves in it, who is a blaxploitation figure. Vampira is Dracula’s old squeeze, and he tries to revive her with new blood. The problem is he used some blood from a black person to do the deed, and his girl undergoes a transformation into a black woman. Dracula spends the rest of the film trying to reverse this change.
Get Christie Love! (1974) as Christie Love: Get Christie Love was a TV movie inspired by the success of Coffy, Cleopatra Jones, and films of that ilk, starring Graves. Christie Love is an undercover cop who works the drug beat, and does her best to break up the drug rings that are destroying Los Angeles. This is the role Graves is most well-known for, because it was parlayed into a television series that lasted 22 episodes from 1974-1975.
Black Eye (1974) as Cynthia: Cynthia makes Shep Stone’s life a complicated mess. The two are a couple, but there are forces from the outside possibly pulling them apart. That force is another woman, but it’s not a woman chasing who you might think. The woman is interested in stealing Stone’s bisexual girlfriend. This is a subplot to the primary plot of Stone’s work as a private investigator trying to solve a murder and crack up a drug ring.