Legendary Porn Pioneer Harry Reems of Deep Throat Fame, Dead at 65

Harry Reems, a former adult film star who is best remembered for his leading role in the seminal porn film Deep Throat, passed away yesterday at the age of 65.

The news was first reported by Don Schenk, a close friend of Reems, who was by his side yesterday afternoon when he succumbed to organ failure at the Salt Lake City VA Hospital.

Gawker has since received confirmation of Reems' passing from a representative of the hospital.

According to Schenk, Reems was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last summer, compounding his existing health problems, which included peripheral neuropathy and emphysema.

He was admitted to the VA hospital earlier this month with jaundice, and his health deteriorated quickly thereafter. Reems became comatose over the weekend, and passed away yesterday around 2 PM local time.

In his heartfelt obit for Reems, Schenk writes in part:

Harry, whose given name was Herbert Streicher, was thrust into infamy in 1972 when he stared in "Deep Throat," the first adult film made for wide screen, but because he was a union actor with a Screen Actors Guild card, the film's producers had to create a new name for him.

The funny thing is Harry was not even supposed to be in the film. He was hired to handle the lighting. Writer/Director Gerard Damiano ran into a casting issue when the fellow hired to play the lead part didn't show up. Harry was thrust into the job, for which he was paid only $250.

Sadly, Reems continued to be battered around by the life he never chose.

In 1974, Reems famously became the first and, to date, only actor to have charges brought against him by the federal government for appearing in a movie.

Though he was initially convicted of conspiracy to distribute obscenity across state lines, the charges were eventually dropped following a retrial. Many mainstream celebrities who were outraged by the potential precedent supported Reems both verbally and financially during the trial.

Reems paved the way from other porn stars to practice their profession without fear of prosecution, but never got to enjoy the fruits of his harrowing ordeal himself.

In the 2005 documentary Inside Deep Throat, Reems recounts his descent into alcohol addiction, recalling entire days spent in an inebriated haze.

Reems did eventually sober up, taking his last drink in the summer of 1989, and turning his life around completely. Along with sobriety, Reems also found faith, a wife, and a prosperous career as a real estate broker in Park City, Utah.

"I'm 16 and a half years clean and sober and as happy as I could ever want to be," he said in a 2005 interview shortly before the release of Inside Deep Throat on DVD. "In fact, my life today is better than anything I could've thought it would be when I was younger."

[H/T: Dangerous Minds, photo left via AP]