Paul Ruebens, the comedic actor best known for his role as “Pee-Wee Herman” has died at the age of 70 after a private battle with cancer.
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) July 31, 2023
“Please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing the last six years,” Reubens said in a posthumous statement shared on his social media. “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,” read the statement in closing.
The social media post was accompanied by this from Reubens’ estate:
“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.”
From Entertainment Weekly:
He rose to prominence for his role as the childlike Pee-wee Herman, first introduced in his 1981 stage show The Pee-wee Herman Show. The success led to an HBO special, three feature films (1985’s Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, 1988’s Big Top Pee-wee, and 2016’s Pee-wee’s Big Holiday), and a weekend-morning program that ran on CBS between 1986 and 1990.
The star’s career was briefly derailed after he was arrested in 1991 for indecent exposure at an adult theater in Sarasota, Fla. He pleaded no contest and was fined and sentenced to community service.
In 2002, Reubens was charged with possession of materials depicting children under the age of 18 engaged in sexual conduct. The charges were dropped in 2004 after Reubens, a self-proclaimed collector of erotica, agreed to plead guilty to a lesser misdemeanor obscenity charge.
In 2016, he brought Pee-Wee back to celluloid life with Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday for Netflix.
In 2020, he launched a national tour celebrating the 35th anniversary of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, which included a screening of the film followed by anecdotes of the making of the film.
Rest in peace Paul Reubens.
Paul Reubens was like no one else – a brilliant and original comedian who made kids and their parents laugh at the same time. He never forgot a birthday and shared his genuine delight for silliness with everyone he met. My family and I will miss him.
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) July 31, 2023
Swift rebirth sweet man.
Beautiful joyous thing.
I love you.
— k.d. lang (@kdlang) July 31, 2023
One of the patron saints of all misfitted, weird, maladjusted, wonderful, miraculous oddities. https://t.co/4TJAObpO2M
— Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) July 31, 2023
“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.”- Paul Reubens
We loved you right back, Paul… & can't thank you enough for the lifetime of laughter!#RIP pic.twitter.com/u7Ycx0SbTw
— Mark Hamill (@MarkHamill) July 31, 2023
No tweet can capture the magic, generosity, artistry, and devout silliness of Paul Reubens. Everyone I know received countless nonsensical memes from Paul on their birthday, and I mean EVERYONE. His surreal comedy and unrelenting kindness were a gift to us all. Damn, this hurts.
— Conan O'Brien (@ConanOBrien) July 31, 2023
Paul and I first met in 1973 at Cal Arts. We remained friends for the next 50 years. Not day to day. Just the kind of friend that you can text out of nowhere or have a 3 hour lunch with. And don't get me started on the birthday texts-he sent them ALL DAY. I feel sick. pic.twitter.com/GEX9oXuiG1
— Laraine Newman (@larainenewman) July 31, 2023