Porn Star Harry Reems Dies At 65 — But There Was Much More to Him Than "Deep Throat"

On March 19, one of the most iconic pornographic actors in history passed away due to pancreatic cancer. Harry Reems was born in New York in 1947, and after a brief stint in the Marines and an attempt at acting, Reems decided to delve into the adult film industry. After hearing this, it would be easy to dismiss Reems as a goofy, mustachioed porn star, but that wouldn't be fair to the First Amendment.

Reems was the first actor to be prosecuted with obscenity charges by the federal government for his participation in the infamous film Deep Throat — film that, depending on who you ask, made $600 million on a $25,000 budget. His initial conviction was appealed and overturned with the aid of Alan Dershowitz, who during that time actually cared about the Bill of Rights.

The fact that Reems, along with 11 other individuals who he had never met, was actually convicted with conspiracy to distribute should seem ludicrous to anybody, exhibitionist or prude. Art is subjective (and in this case I use the term loosely) but freedom of expression shouldn't be.

To help pay his expenses and promote free speech, Reems would give lectures defending the right to choice; his point was that adults can decide on what’s obscene and what offends them. When giving speeches was unsuccessful in raising funds, Hollwood, which I recently stated can have a wonky approach with certain people, stepped in.

Via the AV Club:

"I hadn't met many of the celebrities," Reems told Bullz-Eye. "They were there because of the issue that was being threatened, and that was creative freedom. They weren’t there supporting Harry Reems; they were supporting an issue. I had no pretense that they were there for anything other than that. (But) I thanked them, and I’m very grateful to all of them to this day."

After the trial, Reems attempted to move into the mainstream when he was cast in the film Grease, but he was swapped with great haste and forced to rejoin the adult industry. That’s when depression set in, along with the drugs and alcohol. He was able to survive all that and found a wife, God, and a new career as a real estate broker.

"It came to a point where I wasn’t even insurable in a motion picture, so I sort of sabotaged my own career. I was in denial that I had a drinking problem and continued to drink — to the tune of a half a gallon a day! — ‘til July of 1989. At that point in time, I realized that I either gotta kill myself or I gotta get better. Fortunately, I chose to get better."

With today’s technology, there is an unlimited amount of free expression, and that has to apply to all of us. This is an important area for us to consume art, ideas, knowledge, or even just recreation. Hindering these things, no matter how inane, can be detrimental and extend into other areas of our lives.

Harry Reems was a man with many titles throughout his life. He was a leatherneck, thespian, porn star, production assistant, back to porn star, and finally concluding with, real estate broker. I’d like to add one more, free speech champion.

I salute you Mr. Reems, at half-mast.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Brandon Seevers

Brandon Seevers was born in the back seat of a taxi cab. He wrestled a bear once. He's an Aquarius. He has a B.S. degree in BS.

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