Born Harvey Cohen, November 25, 1952, New York City | Died October 8, 2023 (aged 70)
Other names: Harvey Cowen, Harvey Joel Coen, Herschel Cohen, Jack Black, Max Cohen
Herschel Savage (born Harvey Cohen, November 25, 1952 – October 8, 2023) was an American pornographic actor, director and stage actor who appeared in over 1,000 adult films. In 2002, AVN ranked him 46th on their list of The Top 50 Porn Stars of All Time. He has also been inducted into the AVN and XRCO Halls of Fame.
Savage was born in New York City to Russian-Jewish parents. His mother battled with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Growing up, he attended a Conservative synagogue.
Savage began studying acting under Broadway theatre actress Uta Hagen and renowned acting teacher Stella Adler. Savage initially sought a mainstream stage and screen career.
However, he became disillusioned by the constant auditioning and competition for roles. He also worked for an exercise company.
Performed with notorious serial rapist Ron “The Hedgehog” Jeremy
Savage was introduced to the adult film industry via the actor R. Bolla in 1976, He went on to become one of the biggest stars of the “Golden Age of Porn” in the 1970s and 1980s. Savage appeared in the 1978 classic Debbie Does Dallas, for which he was paid about $150 a day. The film was a financial success, becoming one of the top five highest grossing adult films of all time.
Some of the other films he has appeared in include Expose Me Now, Bodies in Heat, and Rambone Does Hollywood. He created the stage name “Herschel Savage” with adult actor Jamie Gillis in an attempt to combine a ‘nerdy Jewish identity’ with that of a stud.
PREVIOUSLY: Porn use linked to serious health issue for men
During the mid-1980s, Savage helped to organize sex workers in San Francisco to fight for better wages. The initiative was ultimately abandoned after production studios threatened to blacklist performers.
In 1986, Savage appeared in a cameo for the neo-noir crime film 52 Pick-Up starring Roy Scheider and Ann-Margret. He was credited as “Harvey Cowen”. In 1988, Savage was inducted into the XRCO Hall of Fame. That same year, he left pornography to work in sales and video distribution. He returned to performing in 1997.
Savage appeared as a guest during the fifth season of the NBC sitcom Just Shoot Me, with Ron Jeremy, which aired on February 1, 2001. In 2003, he performed a stand-up routine on an episode of the reality television series Family Business. Savage portrayed a detective in the 2008 parody film The Texas Vibrator Massacre.
Savage appeared as himself in Pretty Filthy, a musical about the adult film industry. He also performed in the interactive dinner show Joni and Gina’s Wedding. In July 2016, Savage premiered Porn Star: My Life In The Sex Industry, an autobiographical one-man show, which he successfully funded through a Kickstarter campaign.
Savage was a practicing Buddhist. He resided in California. He died on October 8, 2023, at the age of 70.