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But what am I?’ Pee-wee Herman creator and star, Paul Reubens dead at 70



The performer behind the iconic character Pee-wee Herman, Paul Reubens, recognized for his unique laugh “heh heh heh” and his signature gray suit with a red bow tie, has passed away, according to a statement released on his Instagram account on Monday. After a prolonged struggle with cancer, the 70-year-old entertainer died in his sleep.

“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,”

Paul Rubens Instagram account

Paul Reubens saw a resurgence of his iconic character in the 2016 Netflix original film “Pee-wee’s Big Holiday.” The warm reception indicated Pee-wee’s unique charm was still welcomed by audiences.

Despite the controversy that marred his career in the early 1990s, Reubens quietly continued to work in Hollywood throughout the 2000s. He had roles in notable projects such as the film “Blow” (2001) and popular TV shows like “30 Rock.” However, he didn’t bring back the role of Pee-wee until the late 2000s, when he appeared in a revamped stage production of “The Pee-wee Herman Show.”

The early 1990s were a tumultuous time for Reubens. In 1991, he was arrested on charges of indecent exposure in Florida, an incident that led to the cancellation of “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” and forced him to retreat from the public eye. He later pleaded no contest to the charges.

From 1986 to 1990, Reubens delighted children on “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” an Emmy-winning CBS show celebrated for its innovative and whimsical style. The show, featuring Pee-wee’s unique brand of humor and educational lessons, was a hit with audiences.

Reubens’ character of Pee-wee first made it to the big screen in the 1985 cult classic “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” directed by Tim Burton. The film’s success was a testament to Pee-wee’s quirky appeal and the creativity of Reubens.

Before his success in film and television, Reubens was part of the Los Angeles-based improvisational comedy team The Groundlings in the 1970s. It was here that he developed the character of Pee-wee Herman, a man-child dressed in a grey suit with a red bow tie. “The Pee-wee Herman Show,” a stage production, was later turned into an HBO special in 1981.

Born as Paul Rubenfeld on August 27, 1952, in Peekskill, New York, Reubens spent his formative years in Sarasota, Florida, where his parents owned a lamp store. This reverse journey of Reubens’ life showcases a career marked by significant cultural impact and resilience in the face of controversy.


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