Deep Throat porn star Harry Reems dies aged 65

 

Harry Reems, the porn star who became a reluctant icon of the blue movie business after he was cast opposite Linda Lovelace in the 1972 box office bulldozer Deep Throat has died at a hospital in Salt Lake City, his family said. The 65-year-old had suffered from numerous illnesses including pancreatic cancer.

His passing means he will be spared the spotlight that would have come once again with the release this year of Lovelace, a bio-epic about his and Ms Lovelace’s impact on cultural mores. Reems will be portrayed by Adam Brody and Amanda Seyfried will play the title role.

More than 40 years on, the film that sent the censors into a tizzy on both sides of the Atlantic still has powerful echoes. Mention it and some think of Watergate because the source of secret titbits fed to The Washington Post went by the name Deep Throat. Ms Lovelace, whose real name was Linda Susan Boreman and who died in 2002, still has the power to make grown men quiver. But only real scholars of the form are likely to remember the name Reems.

But the actor, born Herbert Streicher in New York, still got plenty of attention after the release of the film – much of which he didn’t like. That he was even cast, as the doctor helping Ms Lovelace deal with an oddly sensitive area at the back of her throat, was an accident. The original actor chosen for the job didn’t show up and when the director saw Reems, who was on set as a lighting technician, he drafted him in as a replacement.

Reems, who had the extravagant moustache and forested chest hair that fitted the macho clichés of the era, often claimed he was paid $800 for his role in a film that ended up making $600m worldwide. Worse, in 1976, he found himself convicted under America’s obscenity laws. He was only spared prison after celebrities including Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty intervened to have his conviction overturned.

By then, though, he was in the grip of alcoholism, a disease which he admitted later very nearly killed him. “I literally should be dead. I know a lot of people who drank a lot less than me, and they are dead,” Reems said in one interview. “God has left me on this Earth for a reason, and I think it’s to save lives.”

In 1980 he dried out, turned to Christianity and became an estate agent in Salt Lake. “He hated, at the end, doing porn,” Jeanne Reems, his widow, once said. “It was all he could make money doing.”

“I met him long after he left the adult film industry. The adult film industry basically destroyed him,” Don Schenk, a friend said, noting that Reems was a keen golfer and skier. “He would never talk about the salacious stuff – we always talked about how he was a survivor,” said Mr Schenk.

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