The Secret Life of Dolly Sharp, Part 4: Whatever Happened to Helen Wood? – Podcast 112

The Secret Life of Dolly Sharp, Part 4: Whatever Happened to Helen Wood? – Podcast 112

In the first part of the mini-series ‘The Secret Life of Dolly Sharp’, I went in search for the enigmatic Deep Throat actor with the mysterious past, who seemed to disappear from the face of the earth back in 1972. I spoke to Gerry Damiano and Harry Reems who worked with Dolly on ‘Deep Throat’, to actors who appeared in other films with her like Fred Lincoln and Jamie Gillis, even one of the first porn agents, Tallie Cochrane.

In the second part, I found that Dolly had had a long and successful career on stage and in movies – as Helen Wood – long before she entered the adult film industry.

In the third part, I went in search of Dolly Sharp, to find out why she had disappeared from New York shortly after she appeared in ‘Deep Throat.’

In this final episode, I look for Helen Wood.

This podcast is 43 minutes long.


Helen WoodHelen Wood takes New York


Helen WoodHelen in ‘Give A Girl A Break’


Helen WoodHelen Wood in the 1990s


Helen WoodHelen in the 1990s


  • Posted On: 10th October 2021
  • By: Ashley West
  • Under: Podcasts


  1. Fred · October 10, 2021 Reply

    Hands down the greatest achievement from all of the efforts from various sources.
    Simply the most insightful piece of work and intelligent output.
    Congratulations to all concerned.

  2. Joe R. · October 10, 2021 Reply

    After the barnstormer of the third episode, this delivers on every front.


  3. Samantha Kay · October 10, 2021 Reply

    Sensational conclusion. I could listen to Ashley West’s voice all day.

    • Jim Stevens · October 10, 2021 Reply

      If you have to revisit a story, this is the way to do it. The last episode was an emotional rollercoaster…whatever issues Helen had, John was a case for study himself. The threats of extreme violence…my God. An exemplary, sometimes scary piece of detective work.

    • April Hall · October 16, 2021 Reply

      Thank you Samantha!

  4. Chuck P · October 10, 2021 Reply

    Broke my heart but gladden me to hear she found a kind of peace and didn’t end alone. A great interview, as always.

  5. Chris Williams · October 10, 2021 Reply

    I love to see someone turn this into a film. I was so disappointed by the series The Deuce, and the producers obsession with pimps (who had little to no part in the Golden Age of Porn in reality), and how they skipped over the fascinating “white coater” era. Dolly’s story would be a great way to explore something unknown to the vast majority.

  6. Helen's New Fan · October 10, 2021 Reply

    I shed more than a tear…… for a person I didn’t even know about a few months ago.
    Complex, sad, emotional. A small masterpiece.

  7. ANON · October 10, 2021 Reply

    I am kinda speechless.

    You told the story, and yet I still want more.

    Amazing storytelling.

  8. Jeff Robertson · October 10, 2021 Reply

    Awesome Article and Podcast That Was So Amazing

  9. MJ Striker · October 10, 2021 Reply

    Wow, even later in her life, in the picture of her in front of the car she always kept her lean athletic dancers body. If she wanted a big career in porn she could have been another Georgina Spelvin. Amazing so much interest in a woman who played just a bit part in Deep Throat.

    Thank you Rialto for this story. Would love to see a story on the poor mans Johnnie Keyes, the second biggest black porn star on the 70’s King Paul aka Uncle Paul. Where did Paul come from? he had an east coast accent? how did he get into porn? Why almost all Diamond Collection loops? what happened to him, is he still alive?

    • Jake Roberts · October 10, 2021 Reply

      Wow. Just wow.

      With all due respect, did you even listen to the 4th part of the podcast?

      You know the episode that mentioned the lifetime of pain and angst she suffered because of the adult film career?!!?

      If so, why the hell would you write “If she wanted a big career in porn”….?!?!

      She clearly never wanted that.

      And then to talk about King Paul, when there is so much to admire in this story, in this podcast, in this life… Have some respect.

      And listen to the podcast.

      • J. Walter Puppybreath · October 10, 2021 Reply

        Have a care: MJ works King Paul in to every post. It’s what sustains him.

    • Rob C. · October 10, 2021 Reply

      Listen to the podcast first, mate.
      It’s clear you haven’t.

      Go on. Try it. You’ll like it. It’s a good one.

  10. Jerk · October 10, 2021 Reply

    Amazing story! Thanks

  11. Keith J. Crocker · October 10, 2021 Reply

    Fantastic piece. I’ve mentioned before that Joe Marzanno was slated to shoot a one day wonder with her. I’ve given many film presentations, some on musicals and I’ve even showed clips from Give a Girl a Break! Who’d have known? That said, one of the most fascinating aspects of this was how much her boyfriend recorded personal conversation. The part with the therapist is really fascinating because that is a no no. Most therapists wouldn’t go for that. And it certainly wasn’t easy to do pre-90’s. Anyhow, this was a really good piece of uncover work.

  12. Marco Antonio Santos Freitas · October 10, 2021 Reply

    Incredible work.

  13. Richard · October 10, 2021 Reply

    We all have some form of dysfunction in our lives, and it’s clear these two definitely did, and were still able to have a life together. It’s interesting how very talented people, sometimes hook up, with total losers. Congratulations to Rialto, for this amazing presentation. RIP Helen!

  14. Milkman Dead · October 11, 2021 Reply

    After the great conclusion to this series I’d suggest to all that you revisit podcast 20 which did a great job covering Deep Throat. It’s an even better listen with this perspective on one of the movie’s stars.
    Great job, Mr. West.

  15. Olivera · October 11, 2021 Reply

    Amazing story and great storytelling.

  16. Stevie · October 12, 2021 Reply

    Ahh the complexities of the human experience. Kudos to the Rialto Report for capturing the all the details of one woman’s quest to find herself in an often unforgiving world.
    One can’t help but hope that somewhere in Ms. Wood’s life , she found peace and happiness.

  17. cary · October 12, 2021 Reply

    Stellar series, on my! i was touched as i can hear you were as well, Mr. West. A big THANK YOU to the gentleman that were in her life that allowed you to share their experience with Ms. Wood. and finally, …Helen. i too wish i could of met you. your life, your talent, your beauty, YOUR HUMANITY, that integrity and gravitas i hear in your story, makes me say, you’re missed, and thank you for being.

    Thank you RIALTO.

  18. Ed · October 14, 2021 Reply

    Absolutely incredible work to put all this together! Many people (including myself) would have just expected “Dolly Sharp” to have disappeared into the mists of time, never to be seen again. That you managed to find out so much about her is unbelievable detective work. The dedication and skill of the people who run this site is nothing short of astonishing.

    Any chance of a feature on Connie Peterson? Love to know what happened to her, she just seemed to vanish.
    Or the ultimate find would be the blonde-haired Color Climax actress known as “Christa”, she seemed to be the starting point for every young boy sneakily checking out his first porn mag, or watching his folks VHS copy when they were out….

  19. Corn Flakes · October 15, 2021 Reply

    Thoroughly enjoyable. The depth of Rialto Report’s journalism and Ashley West’s story-telling creates a vivid picture of the actor and the human that embodies her. Helen Wood lived a very interesting and arguably, tragic life. The rise and fall of Ms. Wood is an age old tale that would have remain untold but for Rialto Report’s dogged preservation of this important history.

    Mr. West’s investigation involved 10 years! And the result is a spectacularly fulfilling portrait and inside look of this transformative era in American life, film, pornography, law, and the human experience. Easily, the story-telling is on par with This American Life. Fascinating!

  20. Hyrb Tarlyk · October 15, 2021 Reply

    you guys have done some awesome work, and this is the best piece you’ve ever done. A fantastic piece of journalism. And the luck too…I can imagine the shit eating grin on Ashley’s face when hearing this dude recorded everything….a seam of pure GOLD, and hit a towering 500 ft home run with it that completely cleared the stadium.

    To me the most fascinating part was how these people were so toxic for one another but yet still stuck with it and had it worked out. They were frankly complementary people, both so tortured by the shame component around sexuality. I cant imagine the subverted shame he must have felt in his need to degrade her over her participation in porn, and equally I cant imagine the shame she must have felt to abandon all her accumulated skill set and disappear completely from society for the rest of her life once it became known she was the legendary co star of Deep Throat. I also wondered why there was nothing on his lady as well, her obscurity seemed intentional and the conspicuousness of it always intrigued me too.

    Fantastic, fantastic work….this piece should win some award for journalism honestly. There is serious movie potential here as well, this is such a fundamentally human story.

    • April Hall · October 16, 2021 Reply

      We greatly appreciate it Hyrb!

      • Xavier · November 16, 2021 Reply

        Just finished binge-listening to this story. It’s STUNNING. Helen Dolly Sharp Wood came “alive” and touched my heart. Nothing in her life was wasted. As we can see and hear, it kept on giving. I had already been blown away by your stories, Dear Rialto Report, but this one left me speechless. Thank You.

  21. George Maranville · October 17, 2021 Reply

    I’ve come back to this story many times over the past few weeks. It’s so far beyond a story about the golden age of adult cinema. Of course, that’s true of all the work done by The Rialto Report but this one is so above the stratosphere it takes your breath away.

  22. Don · October 19, 2021 Reply

    Yet another amazing story, i always found Helen/Dolly the most interesting character in Deep Throat. I always thought i was the odd one out for this but gladly see i am not.

  23. Chris Flash · October 25, 2021 Reply

    ANOTHER home run from Rialto Report!

    You are performing a public service for those of us who lived during and enjoyed the golden age of porn and those who want to know more about those days.

    Thank you!

    — Chris Flash

  24. Julia · October 31, 2021 Reply

    honestly one of the most interesting podcasts I’ve ever listened to. Helen Wood had a truly incredible life.

    Thank you so much for this.

  25. Byron Lueders · November 23, 2021 Reply

    This is as much an incredible tale of a talented woman’s life as it is a document about the poisonous masculinity of a banal man. I guess I have to applaud her boyfriend’s paranoia that resulted in all of this source material. Glad to hear that Jon was willing to do the work on himself to overcome his issues (and also that he didn’t MURDER Helen).

    Thanks again for objectively presenting this story of two complex, real people. Mic appreciation for continuing to preserve the legacy of these obscure Golden Age performers.

  26. Patrick · December 5, 2021 Reply

    Just finished listening to all four episodes of this podcast. What an incredible, insightful, heartbreaking piece of investigative journalism. What an incredible talent Helen Wood was, and you served her memory well.

    I do wonder if you ever made contact with her son while you were putting this piece together. I would be curious to get his perspective on her life.

  27. Mr. Fred C. Dobbs · December 14, 2021 Reply

    The striking thing about this story is that Helen Wood was so casual about doing porn work, seemingly viewing it as just another acting gig. I cannot help but wonder if she viewed doing porn scenes as little different from getting a job through the infamous “casting couch” that was purportedly common in mainstream Hollywood throughout the 20th century.

    In both cases, actresses were obliged to have sex if they wanted to earn money. The casting couch was done “behind the scenes” so the actresses involved at the very least didn’t having the experience tarnishing their subsequent careers. Perhaps Helen found herself on the casting couch at some point in career. She would have hardly been alone. She may have assumed that since porn was an underground industry it was essentially the same thing and she could walk away from it later without anyone knowing that she participated.

    And, then, in a cruel twist of fate, one film becomes a popular sensation…

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