R.I.P. Herschel Savage (1952 – 2023)

R.I.P. Herschel Savage (1952 – 2023)

Seventy is no age to die. Especially not for a man as decent and good as Harvey Cohen. But last week, Harvey, who used to be the adult film star known as Herschel Savage, passed away in his home in Los Angeles.

Despite his performing pseudonym, Harvey was a gentle, sweet man, who’d chosen his nom de porn in an attempt to combine the nerdy New York Jewish self that he was with that of the sexual stud he pretended to be.

Over the years, I saw him frequently – we’d eat out at Musso and Frank’s on Hollywood Boulevard. Often, he was by himself, sometimes with his best friend and fellow porn veteran, Paul Thomas. Outwardly he looked great, in fact I always thought he looked better than he did back in the 1970s and 80s. But in other respects, time hadn’t been kind to him. He’d developed a series of health complaints, and last year suffered a serious heart attack – something he was keen to keep hidden from all but his closest friends. He was always entertaining, repeating George Carlin’s routine on the language of aging: you become 21, turn 30, push 40, but you reach 50, make it to 60, if you’re lucky you hit 70.

In fact, Herschel was 70 when he died. He’d struggled financially as well, and always berated himself for not being motivated to do something with his life.

The heart attack had been a wake-up call. “I need to get creative with how I earn some money,” he said. “Life is difficult when you’re poor. Not to mention boring.” He talked about a new one-man show that he was working on titled “Rich Man, Porn Man,” but in truth, he was struggling to make things happen anymore.

I interviewed Herschel for this Rialto Report podcast almost exactly 10 years ago to the day. Neither of us really knew what we were doing. I was still new to the podcast game, and Herschel wasn’t used to being asked personal questions about his life. And, as it turned out, it got us both into a little trouble. Herschel more trouble than me.

You see, Herschel had been interviewed by a Harvard University student a few months before for a project that a student been doing for her degree course. Turns out, Herschel and she had become friendly and had started a relationship. She’d found Herschel to be far from the coarse, crude, misogynistic porn star she’d expected to encounter, but rather an intelligent, cultured, and sensitive man – who’d practiced Buddhism for the previous forty years.

And then we did the Rialto Report interview that you’re about to hear: in it, Herschel is frank, unfiltered, and brutally honest about his life and thoughts on the adult film business. When his new girlfriend listened to it, she was shocked. She called him as soon as she heard it and expressed how upset and disappointed she was. This wasn’t the Herschel she knew, she said. I didn’t want Herschel to suffer as a result of having done an interview with me, so I bought him an air ticket to visit his girlfriend so he could have the chance to explain and repair the relationship. It was to no avail: Herschel took the flight, but no amount of sweet talking could fix the situation, and they split shortly afterwards. Not one of The Rialto Report’s proudest moments.

Over the last few years, I would hear from Herschel on a daily basis. He would send news articles to me on WhatsApp, declaring he was my news and literary concierge. He would often add a comment about why he wanted me to read the article.

Ten days ago, Herschel unexpectedly sent me photos. Tens of them. From all stages of his life from when he was a boy through to recent pictures. “You can use these on The Rialto Report soon,” he said.

The last article I received from him was on the day before he passed: “I want you to read every word of this,” he wrote next to a link. The article was entitled: “How to life a long and happy life.”

Rest in Peace, Harvey.


Photos sent by Herschel Savage to The Rialto Report last week:

Herschel Savage

Herschel Savage

Herschel Savage

Herschel Savage

Paul Thomas

Paul Thomas

Paul Thomas

Richard Pacheco

Herschel Savage

Ron Jeremy

Christy Canyon

Herschel Savage

Ginger Lynn

Christy Canyon

Herschel Savage

Herschel Savage

Leslie Winston

Herschel Savage

Herschel Savage

Herschel Savage

Herschel Savage

Herschel Savage

Herschel Savage

Herschel Savage

Herschel Savage

Herschel Savage

Herschel Savage

Herschel Savage


  • Posted On: 15th October 2023
  • By: Ashley West
  • Under: Articles


  1. Jeff Robertson · October 15, 2023 Reply

    We Like Our Extend Friends And Family Of Herschel Savage During Difficult Times Godspeed Herschel

  2. Frank F · October 15, 2023 Reply

    Deep gratitude to The Rialto Report for their sensitive reporting on the passing of adult film stars of the Golden Age. This post affects me deeply, as did the post of Jerry Butler’s passing. Both Herschel and Jerry appeared in the first adult films I watched (the NIBO films of the early eighties). Both were fellow New Yorkers, just a few years older than me. Thanks again for this final remembrance of Herschel Savage, a solid adult performer and fine actor.

  3. Michael · October 15, 2023 Reply

    Thank you for this. It’s been a week of “death news” for me so why not let it pile it on. But thank you again for humanizing these performers. Some of his lessons are universal and don’t apply to only former adult stars. I remember seeing him first in Debbie Does Dallas – which was of course a national sensation but had notoriety in Brooklyn because some of it was secretly filmed at Brooklyn College. Anyway, HS/HC was always a memorable presence. And a comforting one – maybe because it was obvious that he was a Brooklyn Jewish guy like me (but unlike me, he liked Hebrew School. Anyway, great interview and RIP HC. PS – I think that is the enigmatic and very pretty “Inez Acker” with the bright red lipstick posing with HS/HC in that shot where he is wearing the red bow tie. She was just around for a few years in the 80’s and that was peak VHS xxx time. I hope she is doing well. I could never place her accent – perhaps Armenian or Persian. Thank you.

  4. Jw · October 15, 2023 Reply

    Damn, we lost Anna Ventura in August and now Herschel. So sad. Herschel was my favorite adult film actor, he seemed like a guy that would be cool to hang out with. Rest in peace.

  5. Dan · October 15, 2023 Reply

    You are too modest… even if you were not used to podcasting, this interview is still the best interview that Harvey ever gave…. just as was the case with Harry Reems; Sue Nero; Gerry Damiano, etc. time and again you have provided history where there was none. Thank you for this unparalleled service.

  6. Hal Jones · October 15, 2023 Reply

    Very sad to hear this. Interesting to hear the back story too. Good work as always.

  7. Graham Hill · October 15, 2023 Reply

    Very few performers can come to terms with having had a porn life with real life, especially as they get older and realize like Peggy Lee’s famous song “Is That All There Is.”

    It’s a sad ending for so many in the business, many of whom don’t even make it to 40, let alone 70…

    But like so many others, his performances will continue on arousing us, and profiting those who exploit them beyond the grave!

    RIP Harvey

  8. Vincent Dawn Jr. · October 15, 2023 Reply

    Rest In Power Herschel. He had great range as an actor– from the maniacal villain in “Corporate Assets,” to the goofy schmuck he portrays in “Expose Me Now,” to the well meaning doctor caught in a love triangle in “Nasty Nurses.” Quite a talented guy. Sad loss.

  9. Jim Stevens · October 15, 2023 Reply

    I was literally re-listening to the podcast hours before I learned he’d passed. So sad. Breaks my heart even more to hear that he was one of the golden agers in financial distress.

    Melusine, an offshoot of Vinegar Syndrome, just released “Getting Personal” on Blu-ray. He and Colleen Brennan were a match made in heaven there…both giving first class dramatic performances. He was always a dependable presence, but this was a full character and he was superb.

    My condolences to his son, family and friends

    • George Rexroad · December 2, 2023 Reply

      Rock In Peace Herschel.

      I remember the first Herschel performance I saw was in the days of scrambled porn. It was a scene with Tina Cheri who had a great body. He had the tan, the shaved down body, the alpha male presence but also a humors side where he could poke fun at himself.

      We ended having two things in common. We both had sex with a lot of amazing women and found ourselves in our 40’s asking “what do I want to do when I grow up?”

  10. JL3 · October 15, 2023 Reply

    There have been so many losses recently, enough to where it may seem difficult to acknowledge each as a person and not just as an entry on an end of year list. I’m so grateful that you take the time here to share these thoughts.

    I always enjoyed watching Herschel’s films, especially the older films before gonzo and grime take over so much acreage in the industry. He was a very handsome man, a charismatic and funny one too. Physically he reminded me of Michael Nouri and was one of those figures where I did wonder why they did not find bigger stardom. In spite of this, he also felt very at home in adult work. I remember a movie he did called Hypersexuals where he had a genuinely romantic love scene with Brooke Fields that put a lot of the Harlequin-type product of the time to shame.

    Herschel was one of the guys in that specific period like Paul Thomas, Jamie Gillis, John Leslie, and Tom Byron where I would have gladly watched them perform in mainstream work yet they also had just the right sensuality and charisma for adult entertainment. In some other world where porno chic did lead to a smashing down of the walls, Herschel would have been a mega-star. In our world, he still was, in his own way, and his work, along with your site, will keep him alive forever.

  11. JL3 · October 15, 2023 Reply

    Eric Edwards and Mike Horner too, to add to my above list…

    (very grateful Rialto Report has also given them and so many others such wonderful coverage)

  12. Max Testatora · October 15, 2023 Reply

    He was my favorite. Fly high, Harvey.

  13. Cannella · October 15, 2023 Reply

    Good people.

  14. Shane · October 15, 2023 Reply

    Very sad to read. Rest in peace Harvey, condolences to his family and friends. I would also like to extend my condolences to the Rialto Report, It’s clear to see from the the thoughtfulness and care that goes into this page that you form close friendships with the people who appear in these articles and I’m sure it must be difficult. Thank you for all you do.

    • Zack · October 17, 2023 Reply

      It’s strange to listen to the interview posthumously vs when when he was still living. I recall listening to this interview years ago and being impressed with his articulateness & positive outlook on his life. Now it sounds so very bittersweet. I hope his family can endure their loss, recognizing he was so well liked & admired. Thanks for posting all the wonderful photos.

  15. christopher · October 15, 2023 Reply

    Always a fun presence in films and interviews, a great actor/comedian that elevated everything he appeared in. There’s mainstream character actors where you smile when they show up in a film and Herschel was the porn version of that for me.

    His episode is still one of my favorites – I hadn’t realized that it was one of your first interviews. An important record of his life and career.

  16. BDR · October 16, 2023 Reply

    Damn, Hershel Savage…you’re right, externally he looked great. Young even, and full of life. You can sense the warmth in him by looking at these pictures. There’s something utterly human about how someone smiles with their eyes. It’s sad to know that he was struggling for money at the end. I hope that he was able to find peace in his life and not judge himself too harshly for how he chose to live.

  17. Patrick Palmer · October 16, 2023 Reply

    The saddest part was that he died on Sunday, 10/8 and he was supposed to visit me on 10/11 here in Iowa. He became an “official” Iowan when he peed in the cornfield. We were going to see The Field of Dreams and other highlights, but sadly, it just didn’t happen. He was really looking forward to the trip, as my friends and I had put together some money to get him here. A lot of tears this week for sure, thanks for reposting this interview and your tribute.

    • Rick · October 17, 2023 Reply

      PP – not sure it’s “the saddest part” of this news…. The saddest part is that Herschel is not longer with us, sigh all of us. Sounds more likely that you’re here to blow the trumpet for your own friendship with Herschel.

    • Christy canyon · October 28, 2023 Reply

      I love you Patrick ♥️♥️
      We are all so lucky to have had Hershall as our friend.

  18. Travis · October 16, 2023 Reply

    What a shock, I not long ago listened to your podcast with him, one of the performers from my fav era of the mid 80’s.


  19. Ron · October 16, 2023 Reply

    Didn’t know this yet, this is shocking. He seemed like such a nice and decent guy and 70 is way too young.

    Here’s a two part interview TT Boy did with Herschel 3 years ago, mainly about the good old days. He talked a little bit about his struggles (with zero self-pity). RIP Herschel.


  20. Matt N · October 16, 2023 Reply

    Forget the self-described nerdy porn persona….I always looked up to him and thought he was a stud when I was growing up and discovery him in porn….he reminded me more of a cool Richard Gere-type than a nerd. Your life is of the envy of many men…..RIP Herschel!

  21. Jonathan Myman · October 16, 2023 Reply

    RIP Herschel Z”L..wanted to interview the legend

  22. Hello from Denmark · October 17, 2023 Reply

    Rest in Peace, Harvey.

    I’m sorry to hear he struggled.

    I’m pretty sure I’ve seen some footage of him and his girlfriend in their home practicing hinduism. I think it was something where Seymore Butts was involved. Maybe “Porn: A Family Business” ?

  23. waldo · October 17, 2023 Reply

    I LOVE the photo of him peering out through the cornfield; I kinda think of it as him now peering out at us the still living and implying the joke’s on us.

    Funny as the years go by these guys are more memorable than most of the legit movie stars. I actually go on youtube to watch some of their short non sex scenes at times like this.

    He was also maybe my first Twitter follower – (I think I got to a high of 3 🙂 ) – I suspect he liked a Trump joke I made.

  24. Sonny · October 19, 2023 Reply

    This might have been an earlier podcast but the quality of your work still stands out. I look forward to listening every week although I’m somewhat prepared for the sad outcomes to most of these stories. Poignant is the word that comes to mind.

  25. Jeff · October 22, 2023 Reply

    This is sad. I seen many of his scenes. What a loss to the golden age of the industry

  26. Chris Flash · October 22, 2023 Reply

    This is another home run by The Rialto Report!

    What I come away from this interview is that Harvey is just a regular guy. So what if he wasn’t an over achiever? He enjoyed what he was doing and the experiences he had and the friendships he made along the way.

    It saddens me (again) to get to know so much more about a porn star we loved from the Golden Age only when they have just passed away. Too late to reach out to him or her to tell them how great they were, how much you enjoyed what they did and what positive impact they had on you. Too late to see how they are doing and to ask if they could use some assistance.

    I think of Kandi Barbour, who reportedly died broke and homeless, as well as others, perhaps too proud to tell us they needed help before it was too late. It’s not like there’s an Actor’s Fund Home or a Motion Picture & Television Fund for adult filmmakers. If someone with deep pockets could (anonymously or by whatever means) make something like that available for them, they wouldn’t have to worry about making ends meet or about lack of health care when they are older or in need.

    More than once, the fine people at Rialto Report have done fund raisers for various actors. I have a feeling that more of them could use help on a more regular basis, but, perhaps out of pride, don’t want their names known. To that end, might a fund to which donors could regularly contribute be created? I wonder if something like that could have helped Harvey.

    It is a shame that Harvey didn’t get everything he wanted in life, but he did touch countless people, directly and indirectly, in a positive way. And his work is still viewable for all generations to enjoy. That is his legacy.

    Thank you, April and Ashley, for your public service.

    Chris Flash
    The SHADOW

  27. dave · October 29, 2023 Reply

    sad. and one of the best episodes. btw i think the long interview he did with that guy TT Boy on his YT channel would’ve done a lot more damage to any relationship of his. he came across as a real gentleman with the Rialto Report crew.

  28. Sharon Kelly · November 4, 2023 Reply

    My last movie with Harvey was Henri Pachard’s “Getting Personal”. He was the perfect co-star for that odd movie, a terrific actor and super nice guy. I hate hearing he had a rough end, certainly not deserved.

    • Martha Clark · April 27, 2024 Reply

      Loved your films so much. I’m glad you got to work with some of the best. Hope you’re doing well.

  29. Mr. M K · November 4, 2023 Reply

    R.I.P. Harvey Cohen. What a kind, self-effacing, interesting individual and very sad loss to Golden Age Erotica Fans. Just A Super Interview. Kudos to April & Ashley for a great job and helping to keep present, those warm memories of our Favorite Erotic Heroes !

    Strangely, about 3 Days prior, I just finished watching the YouTube Video of Bill Margold’s Memorial Wake. Where none other than Mr. Harvey Cohen aka Herschel Savage was Emceeing the event; held in the backyard of some wonderful friends of Bill Margolds. What a precise, apt, exacting On-Camera Host, Harvey was ! What a wonderful individual, accomplished actor and STAR. Thanks Again Rialto Report for “Hitting One Out of The Park” !!

  30. Anthony E Jamroz · November 5, 2023 Reply

    He was a great porn star who could act and fuck really good. He was one of my favorite male porn stars. He was in some great porn movies when they were shot on 35mm. film. He is great in the movie “A Touch of Blue” AKA “Little Girls Blue Part: 2”. Sad that he died so young at only 70. MAY HARVEY COHEN AKA HERSHEL SAVAGE ALWAYS REST IN PEACE AND PORN ON THAT GREAT PORN SET IN THE SKY ALONG WITH THE OTHER PORN GREATS WHO WENT ON AHEAD OF HIM. SINCERELY, ANTHONY E. JAMROZ, AKA “TONY JAMS, MISTER ROCK & ROLL”.

  31. Diane · November 16, 2023 Reply

    RIP Herschel! You are one of the actors from the Golden Age who I would have loved to have seen make it in the mainstream entertainment industry! You would have been awesome!

    Godspeed to you!

  32. JLHayseed · December 2, 2023 Reply

    There are a couple of photos where Herschel is in a group, he’s back row far left and there’s a guy in a Rialto Report shirt back row far right. Who’s the woman in the front row far right? Her smile looks familiar.

    • Physcx · December 27, 2023 Reply

      Looks like Kelly Nichols.

      Really cool guy. He had great chemistry with Seka in “Seka’s fantasies”. No doubt he could act as well.

      RIP, man.

  33. Keith · January 5, 2024 Reply

    HARV was known as ‘Harv’ to those who knew him. He was much more of an acting talent then anyone will ever know.

    Harv was rarely given an opportunity to be recognized as the brilliant Actor he truly was. No one gave him a chance in the biz due to his adult film credits, which began for him as a very young man. Porn was an easy option for a struggling actor and he made a legendary legacy for himself as a stud. It was an easy alternative financially but it was also an unfortunate trap for his creative destiny, he couldn’t get normal jobs or keep bona-fide reps in the actual movie biz. Which made his life very difficult after 2008.

    So,no one will remember him for being a great Actor, which he absolutely was. Harv was capable of delivering amazing work as a serious Actor, he trained professionally at both Stella Adler’s school as well as the Actor’s Improv Studio. He was truly one of the best Actors I’ve ever met which is saying a lot… He had a powerful presence and emotional depth that delivered. Harv was an undiscovered powerhouse Actor.

    He had a great sense of humor too. He was and is a generous soul. The world will never know how great an Actor Harv truly was. He was also a spiritually enlightened Buddhist and devoted father. He will be missed.

    Gratitude for this respectful commemorative article!


  34. Andy · February 1, 2024 Reply

    RIP Mr. Jarvis

  35. Martha Clark · April 27, 2024 Reply

    Very sad news. The photo of him with Paul Thomas. Classic! Rest in peace.

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