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Harry Reems, 65; porn star became real estate agent

After “Deep Throat’’ and other porn movies, Harry Reems made his off-Broadway debut in “The Office Murders.’’

1979 ap file

After “Deep Throat’’ and other porn movies, Harry Reems made his off-Broadway debut in “The Office Murders.’’

SALT LAKE CITY — Harry Reems, the male star of the 1972 cultural phenomenon ‘‘Deep Throat,’’ which brought pornography to mainstream audiences, died Tuesday at the veterans’ hospital in Salt Lake City. He was 65.

Mr. Reems had multiple health issues, including pancreatic cancer, said his wife, Jeanne Sterrett Reems.

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Mr. Reems became famous for his role in the adult-film classic ‘‘Deep Throat,’’ which drew middle-class audiences to the theater and became a forerunner of today’s hard-core adult-entertainment industry.

The film later served as the nickname for a source who helped Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein investigate the ­Watergate scandal that led to President Nixon’s resignation.

Born in New York as Herbert Streicher, he served in the US Marine Corps before he ended up in the entertainment industry. He aspired to become a serious actor on the New York stage, but was thrown in front of the camera while working on the production crew for ‘‘Deep Throat.’’

At the 2005 premiere of a documentary about ‘‘Deep Throat’’ at the Sundance Film Festival, Mr. Reems said the film was the first to ‘‘drop any pretense that it had educational value.’’

‘‘There was no socially redeem­ing value, and so the word of mouth went out from people who saw it saying, ‘This is just a comedy. It’s great,’’ he said.

When the original male lead did not work out, Mr. Reems, the lighting director, stepped in. He played a doctor helping a patient, played by Linda ­Lovelace. Lovelace died in 2002.

The movie became a touchstone for obscenity laws and a target for antismut activists.

In 1976, Mr. Reems was convicted of obscenity for his role and faced a potential five-year prison term.

Celebrities including Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty came to his defense, and the conviction was overturned.

After ‘‘Deep Throat,’’ he went on to star in dozens of adult films, including ‘‘The Devil in Miss Jones.’’

‘‘He hated, at the end, doing porn,’’ Jeanne Reems said. ‘‘It was all he could make money doing.’’

In the 1980s, he left the porn industry and moved to Park City, Utah, where he eventually became a real-estate agent.

In 1989, a judge placed Mr. Reems on five years’ probation and ordered him to pay back taxes after pleading guilty to failing to pay income tax on $35,000 in movie earnings. The court also ordered him to under­go an alcohol detoxification program.

In a 2006 interview with the Deseret News, Mr. Reems described his battles with alcohol.

‘‘I literally should be dead. I know a lot of people who drank a lot less than me, and they are dead,’’ he said.

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