Harry Reems Dies: ‘Deep Throat’ Actor Passes Away At 65

harry reems

Harry Reems, the actor best known for his work in the adult film Deep Throat, passed away this week at the age of 65.

Don Schenk, a friend of Reems, confirmed the news today. Reems died of pancreatic cancer at a hospital in Salt Lake City.

In Reems’ obituary, Schenk writes that Reems landed the iconic porn role on accident. The actor, who was trying to find his footing in the porn industry at the time, was working the lights on the set of Deep Throat when a male performer couldn’t live up to his duties. Reems was given a lab coat and told that he was playing Dr. Young.

Schenk writes: “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.”

The movie Deep Throat reportedly made over $600 million at the box office. That number has been widely disputed and, according to a LA Times article from 2005, the movie may have grossed a little over $100 million. Box Office Mojo has its estimate at close to $700 million.

The point is that Deep Throat made a lot of money. Reems, on the other hand, was only paid $100 for his role in the film.

Reems didn’t get rich off of Deep Throat but he did get famous. Oh, and he was also the subject of an FBI investigation due to his role in the film.

According to Gawker, Reems is the only person to be convicted over his appearance in a movie. The actor was convicted with conspiracy to distribute obscenity across state lines. The conviction was later overturned.

Here’s a video of Reems talking about the case.

In addition to the legal troubles, the porn world also opened the door to addiction. Reems battled with alcohol throughout his life until 1989 when he vowed to get sober. Reems filmed his last movie in 1989 before becoming a real estate broker.

Reems said in a 2005 interview: “I’m 16 and a half years clean and sober and as happy as I could ever want to be. In fact, my life today is better than anything I could’ve thought it would be when I was younger.”

Deep Throat is one of the most infamous and influential porn films ever made. A documentary was made about the film in 2005 and a biopic about Linda Lovelace, the female star of the movie, will be released in 2013.

Don Schenk finishes his obituary, writing: “Harry went from living a bizarre lifestyle, through a 180 degree, almost miraculous change to find a Higher Power he called God, and become a truly nice guy who cared for others, and helped a lot of people in Park City, UT. Harry slipped into a coma 4 days ago, and passed this afternoon.”