Iconic Actor Paul Reubens Passed Away At 70
via Inside Edition / Youtube
After a lengthy, private battle with illness, Paul Reubens, the actor best remembered for playing Pee-wee Herman, passed away on July 30th at the age of 70.
Reubens said in a posthumous Instagram post on Monday, July 31st:
“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 also requested that any condolences be made in honor of his late parents, Judy and Milton Rubenfeld, to organizations involved in cancer, dementia, and Alzheimer’s care and research, or to Stand Up to Cancer.
The estate of Reubens added in the caption for the post:
“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.”
A Look Back at Reubens’ Career
Reubens, who was born on August 27, 1952, became a member of the Groundlings, a Los Angeles-based improvisational and sketch comedy group, in the 1970s. In such setting, he created the Pee-wee Herman persona.
The Pee-wee Herman Show debuted on stage in 1980, running for five months to packed theaters and serving as the model for an HBO special. Moreover, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, which was directed by Tim Burton and came out in 1985, made Reubens’ character well-known. The children’s program Pee-wee’s Playhouse on CBS lasted from 1986 through 1990. A sequel, Big Top Pee-wee, was released in 1988.
Reubens’ Career Resilience
Reubens’ arrest in Sarasota, Florida in July 1991 for inappropriate behavior at an adult movie theater had a damaging impact on his career and reputation. It led to retailers, like Toys-R-Us, removing Pee-wee Herman toys from their stock. Despite the scandal, some celebrities supported him. He chose to stay out of the public eye for much of the 1990s, though he received an Emmy nomination for his role in Murphy Brown from 1995 to 1997.
Reubens slowly resurfaced in the late 1990s and early 2000s, playing more significant parts in films like Mystery Men (1999) and Blow (2001). He participated in other productions throughout the ensuing decades, including Reno 911!Tron: Uprising, Mosaic, 30 Rock, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and Legends of Tomorrow are other examples.
With his endearingly quirky persona, Reubens aimed to promote happiness and optimism throughout it all. He said to Bust in 2016:
“Part of me thinks, ‘Wow, it’d be fun to make something super edgy.’ But that’s not me. Left to my own devices, I turn out stuff that’s positive, uplifting and a little corny. I mean, I’m a comedian — I’m trying to make everybody happy. So at the end of the day, if you don’t like corny, then I’m not your guy.”