Porn Star Harry Reems Was Originally Set to Star in ‘Grease’

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Director Randal Kleiser just dished up some fascinating secrets about Grease. He was interviewed on The Hollywood Reporter’s most recent podcast episode of It Happened In Hollywood. The musical, whether watched on TV or in a theater, is beloved by people of all ages and around the world. So, it might surprise you to learn that big-name porn star Harry Reems was almost in Kleiser’s film.

Harry “Deep Throat” Reems in Grease? It’s True.

That’s right, Deep Throat star Harry Reems, aka Peter Long, originally born Herbert Streicher, almost played Coach Calhoun. He would have Rydell High’s athletics teacher. The guy who helps Danny Zuko pickup track and field. The man who goes on that bizarre tangent about the Rydell High Rangers “slaughtering” their rivals before coming back and ringing the victory bell.

By the time Grease was being cast, Reems had become perhaps the most prominent name in the porn world. He’d appeared in the 1972 cult classic Deep Throat and the 1973 film The Devil in Miss Jones, as well as dozens of other adult films. But he’d also gotten into some big legal trouble.

In 1974, Reems was arrested by FBI agents. The following year, he was charged with criminal conspiracy to distribute obscenity across state lines. And in 1976, Reems, along with 11 other people and 4 corporations, were found guilty of the conspiracy. Reems’ lawyer, of all people, was Alan Dershowitz.

Much of Hollywood was up in arms over the conviction. No other porn star had ever been charged with such a crime. Stars like Stephen Sondheim, Jack Nicholson, and Warren Beatty got together to raise money for Reems’ legal defense.

Moreover, Reems was being charged for a crime that had allegedly been committed before the law making it a crime was even passed. The charges were built on the Miller v. California ruling made in 1973, and Reems was in trouble for films made between 1970 and 1973. As such, he and Dershowitz appealed, and the appeal was granted. Reems would be the only one of everyone charged to be granted an appeal. The charges were eventually entirely dropped, but the damage had been done.

Reems’ Dreams Didn’t Go Exactly as Planned

For Reems, according to Grease director Randal Kleiser, starring as Coach Calhoun would have been the beginning of a new life for him. He’d been hired by the film’s producer, Alan Carr. But when executives at Paramount realized that the porn star had been cast for their relatively family-friendly musical, they said, “No, no, you can’t do that.”

According to Kleiser, Carr had to then turn around and fire Reems.

“Alan felt so bad that he gave Harry $5,000 out of his own pocket, but the poor guy was very devastated,” Kleiser told THR. “Because it was his moment to move from porn to the real upscale world.”

Comedian and actor Sid Caesar ended up being the guy to fit Coach Calhoun’s shoes, and the rest is history.

As for Harry Reems, he went back to making adult films. He made those through 1985, stopping eventually in the midst of dealing with homelessness and substance abuse problems.

He did eventually appear in some non-pornographic films as well, including National Lampoon’s Movie Madness, Deadly Weapons, and To All a Good Night. In total, Reems had 155 acting credits to his name by the time of his death in 2013, most of which were from adult films.

Reems married his ski-buddy sweetheart, Jeanne Sterret, in 1990, and later became a realtor. He kept his porn name, Harry Reems, while working in real estate.

30-Somethings Played High Schoolers in Grease

Almost hiring a world-famous porn star wasn’t the only secret that Kleiser divulged in the podcast. Apparently, many of the high schoolers in Grease were actually in their 30s. Ever wonder why you think you’re going crazy because you swear those 16-year-olds look like they’re twice their age? They were. The only stipulation was that they didn’t have crow’s feet around their eyes.

Kleiser also revealed that there was a sourpuss football coach who almost ruined the film for everyone. A coach at Venice High School, where most of Grease was shot, was so annoyed by the film production that he tried to “sabotage” it all.

“He started sabotaging our productions — turning on sprinklers when we tried to shoot, things like that,” said Kleiser. “The production designer thought, ‘Screw this. We’re going to move to another high school.’”

They relocated the dance competition scene to Huntington High School, which happened to be next to a slaughterhouse. It was August, really hot outside, and there was no AC, so you can imagine how that went.

“The smell of the slaughtered pigs in our 100-degree gym — because we had no air conditioning because we couldn’t run it with the cameras,” Kleiser said. “When they’re all dancing around looking like they’re all having fun — they’re about to throw up and faint.”

Gross!

READ MORE: Carrie Fisher Almost Played Sandy in ‘Grease’

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