Pee-wee Herman star Paul Reubens has died at the age of 70 – after a six-year secret battle with cancer.
Reubens battled the disease with his ‘trademark tenacity and wit’ and was remembered for his ‘remarkable character and generosity of spirit.’
In a note written by Reubens, posted to social media by his family after his Sunday death, the actor asked for forgiveness for not informing the world about his diagnosis.
‘Please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing the last six years,’ Reubens wrote.
‘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’ estate announced the news of the Pee-wee Herman actor’s death online. They wrote on his Instagram page: ‘Last night we said farewell to Paul Reubens,’ along with a note written by Paul while he was alive
Reubens has died at the age of 70. Reubens had a secret battle with cancer for six years
His estate announced the news of his death online. They wrote on his Instagram page: ‘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.’
Reubens created the beloved Pee-wee Herman with the late Phil Hartman, which led to an HBO special in 1981 and his 1985 movie Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.
That led to his hit TV series Pee-wee’s Playhouse, which ran from 1986 to 1991, along with the 1988 movie Big-Top Pee-wee.
Reubens created the beloved Pee-wee Herman with the late Phil Hartman, which led to an HBO special in 1981 and ultimately his 1985 movie Pee-wee’s Big Adventure
Comedian Pee-wee Herman admires his star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood in 1988
Reubens once again resurrected the character with the 2016 Netflix movie Pee-wee’s Big Holiday
The two-time Daytime Emmy winner all but retired Pee-wee following his 1991 arrest for indecent exposure at a Sarasota, Florida, adult movie theater.
He was detained by a detective after leaving the theater – and was subject to ridicule in the following months.
Toys ‘R’ Us removed Pee-wee toys from its stores as a result of his arrest.
He denied the charges, and pleaded no contest. The actor was ordered to complete 75 hours of community service.
A 2002 police raid on Paul’s house led to a child pornography charge that was later reduced to a count of possession of obscenity.
Reubens later claimed he was an erotica collector – and had a stash films and magazines, as well as a sizable collection of mostly homosexual vintage erotica.
For the three years after he pleaded guilty to the obscenity charge in 2004, he was required to register his address with the sheriff’s office.
He could not be in the company of minors without the permission of their parent or legal guardians.
Years later, Reubens brought Herman back for a 2010 Broadway revival. Reubens once again resurrected the character with the 2016 Netflix movie Pee-wee’s Big Holiday.
The two-time Daytime Emmy winner all but retired Pee-wee following his 1991 arrest for indecent exposure at a Florida adult movie theater. Pictured: His 1991 mugshot
A 2002 police raid on Paul’s house led to a child pornography charge that was later reduced to a count of possession of obscenity. Pictured: His 2002 mugshot
Reubens, in character as Pee-wee Herman, poses on stage after a performance of ‘The Pee-wee Herman Show’ on Broadway in New York
Reubens is pictured on Celebrity Wheel of Fortune in 2020
Tributes poured in for the actor after the news of his passing.
‘Paul Reubens was like no one else – a brilliant and original comedian who made kids and their parents laugh at the same time,’ Jimmy Kimmel said.
‘He never forgot a birthday and shared his genuine delight for silliness with everyone he met. My family and I will miss him.’
One person wrote on social media: ‘I’m absolutely gutted. Pee-wee Herman showed me it was okay to be weird. He got me through my childhood. Rest in peace, Paul Reubens.’
Another added: ‘It cannot be overstated how huge a pop culture phenomenon Pee-wee Herman was in the 80s, PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE will forever be one of my formative comedy films, Paul Reubens we thank you for creating a truly iconic character, RIP legend.’
Reubens in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, in 1985
Tributes poured in for the actor – who died of cancer on Sunday
In May this year, Reubens sued a memorabilia auctioneer with claims that props he had loaned from his iconic television program had been taken for personal use instead of the intended purpose with some even being sold without Reubens seeing any profit.
He took legal action against James Comisar and his memorabilia company The Comisar Collection.
The props included the Dog Chair, Floory puppets and Mr. Window, in addition to cue cards and signed photos.
It was Reuben’s understanding the props would eventually be a part of a ‘Museum of Television’ for public display and on the promise that he could retrieve the stuff whenever requested.
However, the comedian claimed he had later discovered that there was actually no museum at all and alleges that Comisar had kept the items for their private collection.
The suit was active at the time of Reubens’ death.