Harry Reems RIP

by Don Schenk 13 replies
Harry Reems, actor and real estate broker, passed away today at 2 PM Mountain Standard Time in the Hospice suite at the Sale Lake City V.A. Hospital. He is survived by his wife Jeannie, and a brother whose name I do not know.

This happened about an hour and a half ago, and story has not yet hit the news media.

My wife and I had been visiting him at the hospital every afternoon. This time we called his wife before heading down the hill to Salt Lake City, and she informed us had passed.

I met Harry some 20 years ago, long after he had left the adult film industry - an industry that almost destroyed him. Over the years my wife and I have become close friends with Harry and his wife, and began to spend time on the phone with them several times a month, ski with them every winter, and go visit during the summer.

Harry, whose given name was Herbert Streicher, was thrust into infamy in 1972 when he stared in "Deep Throat," the first adult film made for wide screen, but because he was a union actor with a Screen Actors Guild card, the film's producers had to create a new name for him.

The funny thing is Harry was not even supposed to be in the film. He was hired to handle the lighting. Writer/Director Gerard Damiano ran into a casting issue when the fellow hired to play the lead part didn't show up. Harry was thrust into the job, for which he was paid only $250.

Damiano came up with the name Harry Reems. At first Herbert (Harry) really disliked the name, but in time, as the name became famous, he adopted the name, and continued to use it for the next 40 years - long after he left the adult film industry.

Harry's father (who passed away at age 47) had been a bookie for the New York mob, and the film was financed by the organized crime-mob's money.

Harry is the only actor ever tried and convicted of pandering obscenities for being in a film. The conviction was overturned on appeal, but the damage to any possible career for Harry in "legit" films was done.

Eventually Harry became an active alcoholic. Although he was clean and sober by the time I met him, he told me the lowest point in his life came when he was homeless, because of his addictions, and had to panhandle on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood just to survive. There he was, a one-time famous actor, now on skid row.

He left the film industry in the mid 1980s because, between his reputation, and his active alcoholism, he could no longer find work. For a new career, Harry became a salesman for a time-share company, selling condos in Jamaica. Eventually he moved to Park City, Utah, a town he loved, and became a Realtor®. He earned a full broker's license, and was a certified investment Realtor®.

In July 1989 he took his last drink, became sober, and hasn't had a drink since. He also became active in Park City's 12-step recovery community, and Harry found God. Several times I have heard him refer to himself as "born again," although he never was obnoxious about it or tried to convert the World.

A year or so after becoming sober, he had his first date with Jeannie, and he proposed marriage to her on their first date. She laughed, and told him if she was still dating him in a year, she might consider it. They eloped 4 months later, and have been totally devoted to each other for 22 years. He idolized her, and she him. It was the first marriage for each.

A few years ago Harry's health began to deteriorate due to peripheral neuropathy and emphysema, forcing him to retired 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 have been driving from Park City down to the Salt Lake City VA Hospital to visit with Harry and Jeannie every afternoon.

Harry slipped into a coma 4 days ago, and passed this afternoon.

Harry went from living a bizarre lifestyle, though 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, UT.

Here is what wikipedia has to say... Harry Reems - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Don
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