Paul Reubens

Actor / Comedian
Date Of Birth:
27 August 1952
Date Of Death:
30 June 2023
Place Of Birth:
Peekskill, New York
Best Known As:
The comedian who created the alter ego Pee-wee Herman

Name at birth: Paul Reubenfeld

Paul Reubens played Pee-wee Herman, the sweetly juvenile prankster in a red bow tie, throughout his adult life -- most notably in the 1980s children's program Pee-wee's Playhouse. Paul Reubens was a member of the improvisational comedy group The Groundlings (along with Phil Hartman) in the 1970s, where he developed the Pee-wee character. Pee-wee was an asexual man-boy who combined kitsch with off-beat humor and a crazy giggle. By 1985 the character was so popular that Reubens got his chance for a feature film. He hired newcomer Tim Burton to direct, and Pee-wee's Big Adventure was a surprise box office hit. CBS ended up giving him a shot at a children's show on Saturday mornings, Pee-wee's Playhouse. The show launched in 1986 and was popular with viewers and critics for its weird characters, offbeat humor, and unhinged vibe. Speaking of the show, Reubens told Newsday: "I never set out to do a big educational show. We’re trying to expose children to as much creativity as we can muster in a half-hour." Pee-wee's Big Adventure ended in 1990 after 45 episodes (plus a Christmas special). In 1991, Reubens was arrested at an adult movie theater in Florida and charged with indecent exposure. (He eventually pleaded no contest to the charge.) Reubens stopped performing as Pee-wee Herman and disappeared from the public eye for awhile, but then began to take occasional straight and comedy roles in movies, such as Matilda (1996), Mystery Men (1999, with Ben Stiller and Janeane Garofalo), Blow (2001, co-starring with Johnny Depp and Penelopé Cruz) and Life During Wartime (2009). In late 2009 Reubens resurrected the Pee-wee character for a series of live stage shows, and in 2016 he starred in a feature film sequel, Pee-wee's Big Holiday. Paul Reubens died in 2023, and representatives said "Paul bravely and privately fought cancer for years." In an Instagram message posted after his death, Reubens said, "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."
Extra Credit:

Paul Reubens never married and per press reports, left no immediate survivors upon his death.

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