Paul Reubens, the actor who rose to prominence in the 1980s as the beloved children’s TV character Pee-wee Herman, has passed away at the age of 70 following a private battle with cancer, his representatives announced on Monday. Reubens, an iconic figure in American comedy, was celebrated for his positive portrayal of Pee-wee Herman, a character that brought joy to both children and adults alike.
Reubens’ team released a statement on his Facebook page, praising his courage and resilience in his fight against cancer. They highlighted his unique talent and his enduring legacy in the world of comedy. The statement also emphasized Reubens’ remarkable character and his generous spirit.
The news of Reubens’ cancer diagnosis was not previously disclosed to the public. Along with the announcement of his passing, a personal statement from the actor was shared, explaining his decision to keep his health struggles private. In his message, Reubens expressed his gratitude for the love and support he received from his fans and friends and his joy in creating art for them.
Reubens’ character, Pee-wee Herman, was a sarcastic yet good-natured man channeling his inner boy. Known for his red bowtie and memorable catchphrases. The character’s breakthrough role for Reubens’ was in the 1985 film “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” directed by Tim Burton. The film, which followed Pee-wee’s comedic quest to find his missing bicycle, was a modest box-office success and quickly became a cult favorite.
Following the success of “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” Reubens secured a Saturday morning CBS show, “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” which ran from 1986 to 1991. The live-action show was popular among both children and adults. However, Reubens’ career was temporarily derailed in 1991 when he pleaded no contest to an indecent exposure charge and again in 2004 when he was sentenced to three years probation for a misdemeanor obscenity charge.
Despite these setbacks, Reubens continued to work in the film industry. He made a successful return to the big screen with a cameo in Burton’s 1992 film “Batman Returns,” and later received critical acclaim for his role in the 2001 film “Blow,” alongside Penelope Cruz and Johnny Depp. Reubens also made appearances on popular TV shows such as “30 Rock,” “The Blacklist,” and “Gotham.”
Tributes to Reubens have poured in from the entertainment industry. Late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel praised Reubens as a “brilliant and original comedian,” while comedian and podcaster Conan O’Brien remembered Reubens for his “magic, generosity, artistry, and devout silliness.”