Harry Reems, the handsome leading man-type actor of the early 1970’s who starred in DEEP THROAT in 1972 has died. He was 65. Harry Reems had a handsome look similar to popular athlete of the era, Mark Spitz, but a larger and sometimes almost cartoonish early 70’s mustache. Longer hair and a mustache was a very popular look for young men of this era, and Harry Reems and Mark Spitz both seemed to represent how the average guy wanted to look, as beautiful women adored both men.
The former U.S. Marine was paid just $250 for his role in the low budget porn film, but his role as the “doctor” was both memorable and funny. Besides his scenes with actress Linda Lovelace, the scene where the “doctor” bangs his nurse, Carol Connors. The scenes with the pair were both erotic, hot as well as funny.
DEEP THROAT was produced on a tiny $22,500 budget along with an additional estimated $25,000 added to create a soundtrack for the film. Yet, the film may have grossed as much $600 million internationally, and is considered to be one of the greatest cult classics among the early adult films as an offbeat erotic comedy. Following the controversial 1973 Supreme Court ruling on obscenity, the film was prosecuted in a number of locations but found not to be obscene by juries in locations such as Portland, Oregon and New York, but in an infamous attempt to quash free speech in the United States, FBI agents arrested actor Harry Reems and put him on trial in Memphis on conspiracy to transport obscene material over state lines the Nixon-Agnew “law and order” era, when civil liberties were under heavy assault. Nixon and Agnew were both brought down politically because of crimes of their own, including tax evasion and crimes associated with the Watergate scandal including burglary and evidence destruction, but both seemed bent on morality crusading against porn as some sort of ruse to deflect attention from their own crimes.
Harry Reems was successfully convicted, but his conviction was later overturned, with famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz leading his defense. It was the first time in American history that an actor was arrested and convicted for appearing in a film, and the cause of Harry Reems attracted many celebrity supporters who opposed this outrageous civil liberties outrage because of it’s serious implications to arrest Hollywood actors who would act in films because of some claimed legal wrongdoing of the producers of the film. Warren Beatty and other major stars rushed to defend Harry Reems, who was both funny and likable.
But, all of the trauma of the arrest, trial, conviction, then successful appeal of Harry Reems had a great impact on his emotional health, leading him into alcoholism and even living as a homeless person for a while. But, he got involved with a Christian organization that helped him to get sober, got a real estate license, and became a Christian, although he never regretted his former background as a pioneer in adult films. He died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 65.
Reems actually made more than 100 films, with THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES and MEMORIES WITHIN MISS AGGIE his two best known films outside of the success of DEEP THROAT. But, DEEP THROAT was the best of the lot and considered to be so good partly because it was well made, the offbeat script, but lots of humor as well. The film is considered to be a classic by many mainstream film critics where even serious critics like Roger Ebert have positive views on the film.
Ever the comic, Reems once joked in a 2005 newspaper interview that going from being in porn to selling real estate, “I’m still selling dirt”. He was proud enough of his acting career that he retained his stage name, Harry Reems, although his name at birth had been Herbert Streicher.