The handsomely mustachioed Harry Reems, who turned from being a pop culture phenom as the male star of 1973’s wildly popular cockeyed-clitoris porno, Deep Throat, to selling houses as a prosperous Utah real estate broker, died yesterday afternoon from pancreatic cancer in the Salt Lake City VA Hospital. He was 65. We at World of Wonder became very fond of the actor after he participated in WOW’s documentaryInside Deep Throat and we think of him as a wowlebrity emeritus – and he’s a featured player in our World According to Wonder coffee table book. The only actor ever tried and convicted of, basically, appearing in a porn film, by the 1980s the man born Herbert Streicher was a homeless alcoholic living on the street before turning his life around as a born-again Christian.
On the website Dangerous Minds today, Reems’ good friend Don Schenk explains the sad end to the star: “A few years ago Harry’s health began to deteriorate due to peripheral neuropathy and emphysema, forcing him to retire from real estate. This past summer he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which the doctors discovered during a routine test for something else, and Harry went through months of chemo and radiation treatments. On March 5th, Harry entered the VA Hospital due to jaundice. His liver was failing. Next his kidneys began to fail as his body started to shut down. My wife and I [drove] from Park City down to the Salt Lake City VA Hospital to visit with Harry and [his wife] Jeannie every afternoon.” Reems fell into a coma for four days before dying yesterday.
Writer and wowlebrity David Keeps, in a lengthy 2005 profile of Reems in The Guardian, tells how the pornstar became a cause celebre, an unwitting spokesman against censorship, and a man on a constant struggle to survive the film that made him famous.