Paul Reubens, Creator and Actor Behind Pee-wee Herman, Dead at 70

Reubens had privately battled cancer for six years.

Entertainment
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Actor Paul Reubens has passed away at the age of 70 following a private battle with cancer. The actor, writer and comedian was known for his creation and portrayal of the character Pee-wee Herman.

“Please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing the last six years,” Reubens wrote in a statement that was posted to Instagram after his death. “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 got his start in comedy after joining a Los Angeles improv group in the early 1970s. About a decade later, in 1981, he created Herman for an onstage special, a childlike character known for wearing a gray suit, red bowtie and slicked hair.

Herman would make its film debut in 1985 in the Tim Burton-directed Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, kicking off a franchise that spawned a TV show and several more movies. The character was ultimately shelved in 1991 following a scandal in which Reubens was arrested for indecent exposure at an adult film theater.

Herman was resurrected decades later for a Broadway adaptation of the franchise. Reubens made his final appearance as the character for Netflix’s 2016 flick, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday.

“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,” Reubens estate shared in the caption of the Instagram post.

“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.”

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