Gloria Leonard: Another Legend Passes, August 28, 1940 – February 3, 2014
Gloria Leonard was not just a porn star. Gloria was a friend and maybe even more like a distant aunt. She would call my mom by her first name, she would always ask, “How’s Harriet”? I heard her name all the time growing up, as she was essentially one of the main contract stars, for much of the early Video-X-Pix classics, which was a company, run by my father and his partner. She got along very well with her cohorts.
She was an activist, a mouthpiece for the industry, fighting for the rights of her fellow performers and censorship issues. She was a business woman, worked on Wall Street. She helped invent the phone sex revolution. She was the publisher of High Society. And a pornographic film star. She was a single mother, and a wife. An AVN Hall of Famer and XRCO Legend. A friend to so many and an icon to thousands more. She will never be forgotten.
Gloria got her start in the film industry after meeting Radley Metzger in 1976. She starred in 2 of his films, The Opening of Misty Beethoven(1976) and Maraschino Cherry(1979).
She continued to work throughout the industry as a star and a often made cameo appearances. Her starring role in Joe Sarno’s, All About Gloria Leonard (1978) , and later appearances in Chuck Vincent’s Misbehavin(1979) set her apart from your average star. We even get to see her as a blonde in Silky (1981).
Gloria was very pivotal in the early years of the Distribpix Video arm- Video-X-Pix. The industry had just gone thru it’s porn-chic prime and was on the down slide- the self named “Movie Mongoloids”(Morowitz/Farber), had sequestered Joe Sarno to helm the camera for some good old NYC porn features on 35 mm, to implement their newly acquired Sam Lake Enterprises. Gloria was there at the right time, she was a real lady and she had an incredible sense of humor, An excellent quality that most know about her.
It has been hard to try and write something since the news hit all of us last week. We were in touch with each other, not every month, but we spoke. I flew her to NYC in 2009, we worked together on some interviews and extras for Radley Metzger’s ,’Maraschino Cherry’. We had fun, and I distinctly remember her flying in, and we had her picked up at the airport, and she was beat and needed a pick me up. She was so up front, so straight forward and looked at me and said, ” Do you have any pot to smoke”? I knew I had my dream girl! We shared a joint, it was great. We had tons of fun. After our visit, she headed into the city and then on to visit her daughter down south.
We saw each other again, and it did not seem that long ago, I want to say it was 2012. I was working on a deluxe and remastered package of Radley Metzger’s, ‘The Opening of Misty Beethoven’. This was Gloria Leonard’s first adult role and a hell of a role it was. I wanted her to do a commentary track for the release, as well as perform an HD interview, which she did in Hawaii, at a cinematographer’s studio. In return for her services, I flew her into NYC, so she can spend some amazing time with her lifelong friend’s of Club 90( Gloria Leonard, Kelly Nichols, Sue Nero,Veronica Hart, Veronica Vera, Candida Royalle, Annie Sprinkle, as well as attend a wedding of her dear friend, Veronica Vera. ( Again, I hope I am getting these details right, sorry if they are jumbled).
Gloria also attended a Club 90 reunion at the Museum of Sex in NYC, where all the girls got together on a panel. They spoke of their lives, their work and we got a solid glimpse of what they are all about. It was a great event. Even dragged my father out, and he has always had a soft spot in his heart for Gloria.
They had a wonderful relationship, and it showed. We took her out to dinner after the event at the Old Homestead, the oldest steakhouse in NYC. Now this detail is faded in my mind, but this is no joke- at the table were Arthur Morowitz, Gloria Leonard, Joe Rubin, myself and Bill Lustig? LOL. I am not kidding, I just forget how Bill got into the mix. Anyway, it was a great meal, a good time. Gloria and my father had a slap stick relationship, they joked all the time. They would also talk business and of course some politics. She would often use the same jokes on him and vice versa. At the last dinner we had, He joked, that if he fucked her, he would be arrested for necrophilia, and she coyly reply, “Hey Arthur, if you want to commit suicide, just jump off you wallet”. The same old jokes.
The loved each other, and I loved her too. I genuinely knew of her much of my life and since 2009, had kept a semi continuous relationship with her. Even recently, she had taken to Facebook and was doing some nice communicating, between old and lost friends, and even new fans. This came as a huge surprise to me, not sure why, I mean, these things happen. But, for some reason, I just thought of Gloria sticking around for a long while. I wish I had a chance to say good bye, I am sure we all feel that way. As I get older, death becomes something that I have been dealing much more often. We get older, our elders, get older. Life moves quick, and I know we can’t fight death, we must accept it. BUT, we can make sure that people are not forgotten. We can make sure that legends live on forever. I will do what I can in my life, to help keep Gloria’s legend alive. Preserve her on film, tell stories, share images, etc.
I love you Gloria. I am posting some gorgeous and not too often seen images of you throughout your career. These are from the archive and there are hundreds of them, and hopefully they will be part of a coffee table book on the genre! But for now, these are for old fans, new fans and anyone else. You were an original, one of the pioneers, a legend. With all of our love forever.