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Director of the adult film 'Deep Throat'

October 29, 2008|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Gerard Damiano, 80, director of the pioneering pornographic film that lent its name to the Watergate whistle-blower known as "Deep Throat," died Saturday at a hospital in Fort Myers, Fla., his son, Gerard Damiano Jr., told the Associated Press. He had suffered a stroke in September.

"He was a filmmaker and an artist and we thought of him as such," the younger Damiano said. "Even though we weren't allowed to see his movies, we knew he was a moviemaker, and we were proud of that."

Damiano's "Deep Throat," starring Linda Lovelace and Harry Reems, was a mainstream box-office success and helped launch the modern, hard-core adult entertainment industry.

Shot in six days for just $25,000, the 1972 flick became a cultural must-see for Americans who had just lived through the sexual liberation of the 1960s.

The film's title also became associated with one of the most famous anonymous sources in journalism.

While investigating the Watergate scandal, Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein used it as a nickname for their source, former FBI official W. Mark Felt. Information from Felt helped bring down Richard Nixon's presidency.

Born in New York in 1928, Damiano worked as a hairdresser, spent time in the Navy and directed several adult films.

After "Deep Throat" opened in Times Square, attention from media critics and outraged conservatives -- including repeated legal challenges -- helped turn it into a hit.

It grossed a reported $600 million, but Damiano saw little of that profit.

"My films made a lot of money, but not for me," he told the Fort Myers News Press in 2005. "The people who made the films loved making film and the people who sold the film loved money."

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