Paul Reubens – the actor best known for portraying Pee-wee Herman – has died at the age of 70.
He passed away after a private bout with cancer last night (July 30).
In a statement on his Instagram following his death, the late actor wrote: “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.”
A further statement from Reubens’ estate added in the caption: “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.”
TV host Jimmy Kimmel, was one of the first to pay his respects to Reubens.
He wrote: “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.”
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
Poker Face and Russian Doll actress Natasha Lyonne also offered her condolences.
“Love you so much, Paul. One in all time. Thank you for my career & your forever friendship all these years & for teaching us what a true original is.”
Love you so much, Paul. One in all time. Thank you for my career & your forever friendship all these years & for teaching us what a true original is. ♥️♥️? #PaulReubens #PeeWeeHerman ♥️ pic.twitter.com/GMcBaEgWix
— natasha lyonne (@nlyonne) July 31, 2023
Meanwhile, Hot Fuzz director Edgar Wright posted a short tribute alongside a clip from Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.
He wrote: “A very fond farewell to the great Paul Reubens. I cannot tell you how many times I have watched ‘Pee Wes’s Big Adventure’. It remains to this day one of the most infectiously funny movies of them all. This scene alone I replayed a million times and the mere mention of Paul’s name will always raise a smile.
“I sat near him at a wedding once and was totally starstruck. I couldn’t even begin to communicate to him how much joy he’d brought me. I wish I had been able to. RIP.”
Reubens began his career in the 1970s after joining the Los Angeles live comedy troupe the Groundlings as an improvisational comedian and stage actor.
In 1980, he launched The Pee-wee Herman Show, a stage production centered on a fictional character he had been developing for years. As Pee-wee became a cult figure, Reubens landed a special at HBO. He also committed to the character in his interviews and public appearances.
In 1985, he teamed up with Tim Burton on Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, the character’s feature film debut before returning three years later for follow-up film, Big Top Pee-wee. The character transitioned to television from 1986 to 1990, on CBS’ weekend morning show Pee-wee’s Playhouse.
In 1991, he was arrested for indecent exposure at an adult movie theatre in Florida.
Following the arrest, Reubens retreated from the public eye and did not appear in any major projects until 1999 when he made a comeback in films including Ted Demme’s 2001 drama Blow, which starred Penélope Cruz and Johnny Depp.
In 2002, he was arrested and charged with misdemeanour possession of obscene material improperly depicting a child under the age of 18 in sexual conduct. Two years later, the child pornography charge was dropped, with Reubens pleading guilty to a charge of obscenity instead.
After 2006, Reubens made cameos and appearances in a number of projects including Reno 911!, 30 Rock, Pushing Daisies, Life During Wartime and Accidental Love.
In 2016, he co-wrote and starred in the Netflix original film Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, reprising his role as Pee-wee Herman.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.