Former adult film actor Harry Reems passed away yesterday of pancreatic cancer. He was 65.
Born Herbert Streicher, Reems sought an acting career after being honorably discharged from the Marines. Although he appeared in several off Broadway productions, he began performing in adult films when money got tight.
Reems attained stardom and notoriety for his appearance in the 1972 film Deep Throat (the movie’s title would, of course, become a crucial part of the Watergate scandal). Two years later, Reems was arrested and charged with breaking federal obscenity laws (by virtue of appearing in the film) and later convicted. This would become a cause celebre and with the help of Alan Dershowitz, the conviction was overturned because Deep Throat was produced before Miller v. California. Reems was granted a new trial and the feds would subsequently decline to pursue the case against him.
In 1978, Reems was cast in Grease but the film’s producers got cold feet and replaced him with Sid Caesar at the last minute. Effectively blackballed from mainstream entertainment, Reems continued to make adult films into the 1980s. However, by this time, Reems had become a serious alcoholic until hitting rock bottom in Park City, Utah. It was there he gave up porn, drinking, became a born again Christian and sold real estate and would remain there for the rest of life. Aside from an appearance in the 2005 documentary Inside Deep Throat, Reems largely stayed out of the limelight although he did not shy away from his past.
I leave you with a brief clip of Reems with Dershowitz on Firing Line with William F. Buckley.