Paul Reubens who played 'Pee-Wee Herman' dies at 70 from cancer
Reubens had kept his struggle with cancer private for years. In a posthumously released statement on the actor’s Instagram account, he apologized for keeping his diagnosis private
August 1, 2023 9:06am
Updated: August 1, 2023 9:06am
American actor and comedian Paul Reubens, known for his character Pee-wee Herman, died on Sunday at the age of 70 in Los Angeles after a long battle with cancer.
"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," said a statement released by his estate on Monday.
"Please accept my apology for not going public with what I've been facing the last six years," Reubens said in the statement.
"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,” he continued.
Reuben's acting career began in the 1960s, with roles in television shows such as “Murphy Brown” and “The Blacklist,” as well as movies like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Batman Returns,” and “Blow”
The iconic children’s character Pee-wee Herman rose to fame in the 1980s, after Reubens created it when he was part of the improv group the Groundlings in Los Angeles in the 70s.
Pee-wee Herman starred in several roles, including the film Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, directed by Tim Burton, and the subsequent TV series Pee-wee’s Playhouse, a children’s show that aired on CBS from 1968 to 1991. Reubens won 22 Emmy Awards with the iconic character.
“We’re trying to expose children to as much creativity as we can muster in a half-hour, to be entertaining and to transmit some subliminal messages, like nonconformity isn’t bad,” Reubens said in an interview with Newsday in 1989.
Reubens stopped portraying the role after he was arrested in 1991 for allegedly touching himself inappropriately at an adult movie theater in Sarasota, Florida. While the charges of indecent exposure were dropped soon after, his reputation suffered a blow.
It wasn’t until 2010 that he retook his role as Pee-wee Herman, appearing in several interviews. In 2016, Reubens co-wrote and starred in the Netflix special Pee-wee’s Big Holiday. It was his last role before passing away.
"A gifted and prolific talent, he will forever live in the comedy pantheon and our hearts as a treasured friend and man of remarkable character and generosity of spirit," the statement continued.