Paul Reubens, the beloved actor and comedian best known for his role as Pee-wee Herman, died Sunday following a private battle with cancer at the age of 70. The news of Reubens death was posted inon his social media accounts: Last night we said farewell to Paul Reubens, an iconic American actor, comedian, writer and producer whose beloved character Pee-wee Herman delighted generations of children and adults with his positivity, whimsy and belief in the importance of kindness. Paul bravely and privately fought cancer for years with his trademark tenacity and wit. A gifted and prolific talent, he will forever live in the comedy pantheon and in our hearts as a treasured friend and man of remarkable character and generosity of spirit.
Alongside the official statement, a quote from the comedian read: “Please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing the last six years. 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.” Reubens’s social media added that any expressions of sympathy could be made in honor of his late parents Judy and Milton Rubenfeld, Stand Up to Cancer, or organizations involved in dementia and Alzheimer’s care, support, and research.
Reubens created the character of Pee-wee while a member of the Groundlings comedy troupe. The character was popularized in a stage show Reubens performed that introduced many characters who would later appear in his Saturday morning show Pee-wee’s Playhouse. HBO aired The Pee-wee Herman Show to mass audiences. Reubens brought the character to the movies in the original film Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, the first feature film directed by Tim Burton. A sequel, Big Top Pee-wee saw Herman as a farmer when a traveling circus came to town, and a third Pee-wee film, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday premiered on Netflix in 2016.
Outside of his Pee-wee Herman character, Reubens appeared in the film Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, Batman Returns, Matilda, Blow and recently on What We Do in the Shadows and The Conners. Prior to his death, Reubens had been developing a Pee-wee black comedy movie titled The Pee-wee Herman Story.
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