Gloria Leonard Passes Away

Feb 4, 2014 12:30 PM PST

LOS ANGELES — Gloria Leonard, the Golden Age adult film star who later became publisher of High Society magazine, has died at the age of 73.

Leonard, whose legal name was Gail Leonardi, passed away in Hawaii on Monday following complications from a massive stroke.

She appeared in more than 70 adult films starting in 1974, including "The Opening of Misty Beethoven," "All About Gloria Leonard," "The Trouble With Young Stuff" and "Taboo: American Style" before retiring from performing in 1984.

She also directed several adult films in addition to serving as publisher of well-known men's sophisticate High Society from 1977-91. An outspoken industry activist later in her career, Leonard also was known for debating on issues related to censorship and porn and their impact on women at various colleges and universities.

The Bronx, N.Y. native Leonard was one of the classic stars featured in the 2012 book by Jill C. Nelson that focused on the Golden Era of adult films titled "Golden Goddesses: 25 Legendary Women of Classic Erotic Cinema."

Nelson has written a special blog tribute to Leonard that can be viewed here.

Numerous industry personalities remembered Leonard Tuesday, including veteran producer Luc Wylder.

"It is with a heavy heart that I share the passing of our sweet angel, Gloria Leonard," he said in a Facebook post. "Thank you for your constant support, love and friendship in life. May you now soar among the stars and bless us with your light as we celebrate the passing of one of the true founders of the adult community. Rest in peace, my dearest friend. Namaste."

Veteran adult industry editor Bob Johnson recalled some timely advice he received from Leonard.

"I went to a Learning Annex class in N.Y. back in the 80's that Gloria was giving on the porn biz," Johnson said. "I chatted with her about adult after the class and told her of my interest. This was before I was in the industry. She told me to look into High Society magazine (where she was the figure head publisher). I did...the rest is history. If it wasn't for her I'd never have had this amazing career. Classy lady, pioneer."

Adult star Amber Lynn said via Twitter, "RIP Gloria Leonard, your beauty and your mark on this world, and the adult industry shall remain forever unchanged."

Despite starting her porn career in her mid-30s, Leonard emerged as one of biggest stars of the 1970s. Her credits also included titles such as "Sex Maniac," "The Farmer's Daughters," "October Silk," and "The Naked Goddess." 

A member of the X-Rated Critics Organization (XRCO) Hall of Fame, her portfolio behind the camera included "All About Gloria Leonard" (with Joe Sarno), "Vow of Passion" and "American Garter."

She was the director of The Adult Film Association in its final years and later became president of the Free Speech Coalition in 1998.   

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