Star Paul Reubens, “Pee-wee Herman” Dies At 70, Following Private Battle With Cancer

 August 1, 2023

The actor who played The zany, red bow-tied manchild Pee-wee Herman, for nearly four decades across multiple shows and movies, Paul Reubens, has died. He was 70. His death was announced Monday on Instagram, stating that his death followed a private battle with cancer. It was a posthumous note penned by Reubens himself which read-

“Please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing the last six years,” wrote Reubens. “I have always felt a huge amount of love and respect from my friends, fans and supporters. I have loved you all so much and enjoyed making art for you.”

-Paul Reubens, AKA Pee-wee Herman

Additionally the post said that Reubens “bravely and privately fought cancer for years with his trademark tenacity and wit.”  Reubens entertained multiple generations with Pee-wee Herman, the innocent man-child character, that he created while working as a struggling comic, at the Groundlings in Los Angeles.

With his special dress of a red bow tie and gray plaid suit, Pee-wee Herman became a Gen X icon starting with The Pee-wee Herman Show, the 1981 HBO special of his hit stage show that originated at the Roxy Theatre on the Sunset Strip.

Catapulting to stardom with Tim Burton’s 1985 movie Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Reubens was a box-office hit. The movie, which was Burton’s first, captured the light-hearted zaniness of the Pee-wee character, while teasing out the dark undercurrents channeling beneath his innocent affect.

The 1988 sequel, Big Top Pee-wee was less successful, but Reubens continued to cultivate the cult of Pee-wee with the CBS morning series Pee-wee’s Playhouse, which ran from 1986 to 1990. The show became a touchstone for Gen X’ers who grew up with the character.

He resurrected Pee-wee in 2010, after many years, with a new stage show that ran in L.A. and eventually Broadway, where it was warmly received by longtime fans. The stage show led to a third movie, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, which debuted on Netflix in 2016.

Reubens played memorable supporting roles, in addition to Pee-wee Herman, in Burton’s Batman Returns, playing the father of the Penguin, and Todd Solondz’s 2009 indie Life During Wartime, an informal sequel to Happiness.

“We are born to have fun and laugh. Sustainable happiness comes from making others happy.”

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