Paul Reubens, the comedic actor best known for his character Pee-wee Herman, has died at 70.
The actor died after a battle with cancer that he kept secret from the public, a statement from Reubens posted posthumously on his Instagram states.
“Please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing the last six years,” Reubens wrote. “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.”
“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,” representatives of Reubens wrote in the caption. “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.”
Born August 27, 1952, Reubens got his start as an actor and improv comic with The Groundlings in Los Angeles. After being rejected from Saturday Night Live, he developed his now-iconic character, the lovably eccentric and childlike Pee-wee Herman, for a stage show that became a hit in LA.
The Pee-wee Herman Show was recorded and aired on HBO, and Reubens began making talk show appearances as the character. The growing popularity led to the 1985 feature film Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, directed by Tim Burton.
Reubens reprised the character for the Saturday morning children’s series Pee-wee’s Playhouse, which ran for five seasons on CBS.
He also released a sequel film, Big Top Pee-wee, in 1988.
Reubens took a hiatus from the Pee-wee Herman character, and a 1991 arrest for indecent exposure hurt his career, but he continued to act in films including Mystery Men and Blow and appeared on TV series like 30 Rock, Reno 911! and Everybody Loves Raymond. He received an Emmy nomination for his guest starring role in Murphy Brown.
After a long hiatus, Reubens returned as Pee-wee Herman in revived stage show in 2010, which premiered in LA before transferring to Broadway. It aired as an HBO special and received an Emmy nomination. A third Pee-wee film, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, premiered on Netflix in 2016.
Rest in peace to the incredible Paul Reubens, who made us laugh so much over the years as the iconic Pee-wee Herman 💔❤️
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