Who Was Linda Lovelace?
As the star of the first full-length pornographic film, Deep Throat, Linda Lovelace became a household name in the 1970s. But there was reportedly a dark story behind her fame. She was often abused by her mother growing up, and her first husband forced her into porn. Once the industry’s biggest star, Lovelace later stood up against porn, testifying about its dangers before Congress. She died on April 22, 2002, in Denver, Colorado.
Linda Lovelace was born Linda Susan Boreman in New York City on January 10, 1949. As the star of the first full-length pornographic film, Deep Throat, Lovelace became a household name in the United States in the 1970s. But there was reportedly a dark story behind her fame; she was often abused by her mother growing up, according to an article in the Boston Globe.
In her early twenties, Lovelace began dating Chuck Traynor. She married him in part to escape her family, but ended up in an even more harrowing situation. Traynor reportedly forced her into doing pornography. She later claimed that he controlled every aspect of her life and threatened her with bodily harm if she did not perform or tried to leave him. Traynor denied her charges.
Her most well-known film, Deep Throat, was released in 1972 and took the nation by storm. Lovelace starred with Harry Reems, a seasoned porn actor. The thin plot revolved around a woman who goes to see a doctor to sort out her sexual frustration. Unlike other porn films of the time, it tried to incorporate humor alongside the sexual aspects of the film. Despite its triple X rating, it became popular with mainstream audiences and eventually earned around $600 million. Not bad for a film that cost $25,000 to make. But Lovelace reportedly saw no money from Deep Throat and said that her husband received around $1,250 for the project.
With its numerous graphic sex scenes, Deep Throat stirred up a national debate on obscenity. Several diverse groups, including the Nixon administration, Christian leaders and feminist activists, protested against the film and the porn industry itself. There were police raids of movie theaters across the country often with the film’s print being seized by the authorities. Fines were also levied against some projectionists. While Lovelace faced no legal challenges, she was subpoenaed to testify in one of many court cases against its “obscene” content in 1973. A Supreme Court ruling that same year led to a crackdown on hardcore pornography, but all of the outcry about Deep Throat only generated more interest in the film and spurred ticket sales.
Not long after Deep Throat, Lovelace left Traynor and tried to launch a career as an actress. But her notoriety did not translate into any substantial legitimate roles. She did an R-rated sequel, Deep Throat Part II (1974), and starred in Linda Lovelace for President (1975), which was rated X, but both were box office duds.
While Lovelace was frustrated professionally, she found some personal happiness around this time. She married Larry Marchiano, and he was by her side as she told her story in Ordeal (1980), which provided details about her abusive relationship with Traynor. In the book, Lovelace said that Traynor kept as a prisoner and that he forced to perform obscene sex acts often by pointing a gun at her as a form of intimidation. He also made her have sex with other men for money, according to her book.
Once the porn industry’s biggest star, Lovelace stood up against pornography, testifying about its dangers before Congress and in other venues. She also shared her hellish experiences in numerous forums, including the book Out of Bondage (1986). But financially she and her young family struggled. Marchiano had been unemployed for a time and had a number of low-paying jobs. Her health also suffered. Lovelace needed a new liver after hers was damaged by hepatitis that she may have contracted from a 1970 blood transfusion, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times. She received a transplant in 1987.
In 1990, Lovelace and her family moved to Denver, Colorado. The couple split in 1996, but she stayed in the area and worked locally. She also began appearing at memorabilia shows and received a warm welcome from fans, according to The New York Times. Lovelace died in Denver, Colorado, on April 22, 2002, of injuries sustained in a car accident on April 3 of that year. Her ex-husband and their two children were by her side when she was taken off life support.
Today, Lovelace is credited by many as pornography's most famous star, as well as one of the most respected performers in the industry. A film about Lovelace's life and career, entitled Lovelace and starring Amanda Seyfried as the famous porn star, was released in 2013. Directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman teamed up for the film, which focuses on Lovelace's life from age 20 to 32 and is based on the screenplay by Andy Bellin.
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