Harry Reems Harry Reems

Legendary adult film star Harry Reems, who is best known for starring in the pioneering 1972 adult film Deep Throat, died Tuesday, his close friend Don Schenk announced. He was 65.

Schenk was by his side Tuesday afternoon when Reems succumbed to organ failure at the Salt Lake City VA Hospital. Reems, whose real name is Herbert Streicher, had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last summer and, after undergoing radiation and chemo, had been hospitalized with jaundice on March 5. After his liver and kidneys began to fail, Reems slipped into a coma four days before his death.

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After briefly serving in the United States Marine Corps, Reems decided to pursue acting and appeared primarily in off-Broadway theater. He first rose to fame in 1972 when he stared in Deep Throat, the first adult film made for wide screen. According to Schenk, Reems was only supposed to handle the lighting and was not supposed to appear in the film. However, he was cast in the lead role when the original actor hired did not show up. Reems changed his name because he was technically a union actor with a Screen Actors Guild card.

Because of Deep Throat, Reems was the only actor ever tried — and convicted — of pandering obscenities for being in a film, but the conviction was overturned on appeal.

Reems eventually left the adult film industry in the mid-1980s when he had trouble finding work. He eventually moved to Park City, Utah and became a realtor. In 1989, he gave up alcohol and converted to Christianity and married soon after. "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," Schenk said.

Reems is survived by his wife, Jeannie.