Actor and producer Paul Reubens, best known for his beloved Pee-wee Herman character, has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 70.
“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,” read a statement posted to his official Facebook page.
“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,” the statement continued.
The Facebook post included a statement attributed to Reubens that read “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 shot to fame in the 1980s with his Pee-wee Herman character, starring in the Tim Burton-directed film “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” and its sequel “Big Top Pee-wee.”
He then took the character to television with the CBS Saturday morning children’s show “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.”
In the early 1990s, Reubens’ career took a backseat to a series of scandals.
In 1991, he was arrested for indecent exposure at an adult-only theater in Sarasota, Florida, marking a big setback for his career and a change in the public’s perception of him.
The stigma followed him for years, before he began doing interviews and appearing as himself in several films in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor obscenity charge in Los Angeles in 2004, stemming from a 2002 search of his home that uncovered controversial material. What that material was became the subject of differing accounts from all sources involved and was never made clear.
His career saw a resurgence in the 2000s, with roles and cameos in a wide range of projects, including “Reno 911!,” “30 Rock,” “The Blacklist,” and others.
The Pee-wee character also got a resurgence later in Reubens’ career, with a Broadway version staged in 2010 “The Pee-wee Herman Show,” and a 2016 Netflix movie, “Pee-wee’s Big Holiday.”