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Paul Reubens, Pee-wee Herman actor, dead at 70


Actor Paul Reubens, best known for portraying the irrepressible, joyfully childlike character Pee-wee Herman in Peewee’s Playhouse, passed away at the age of 70 after a private battle with cancer for years.

Known for his iconic appearance, which included a bright red bowtie, grey suit, and a flattop haircut, Rubens’ quirky and playful personality complemented his distinctive squeaky, high-pitched voice.One of his catchphrases, “I know you are, but what am I?” become synonymous with his character.

His official Instagram account shared the sad news saying, “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,” the announcement continued. 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.”

Along with the announcement of his passing, the account shared a message directly from Reubens apologizing for keeping his illness to himself. Herman 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.”

Reubens was born in New York, but raised in Sarasota, Florida. He began his career in the 1970s as an improvisational comedian and stage actor. In 1980, he introduced “The Pee-wee Herman Show,” a stage production centered around a fictional character he had been developing for years. The character of Pee-wee Herman quickly gained popularity and became a cult figure.

The stage show was highly successful, running for five sold-out months, and Reubens also landed a special at HBO, further solidifying Pee-wee’s popularity. Reubens remained dedicated to the character in interviews and public appearances, creating a unique and memorable persona that resonated with audiences. 

Fans wanting to show their support for Reubens’ passing are asked to honor his late parents, Judy and Milton Rubenfeld, by making a donation to either the charity Stand Up to Cancer or any organization focused on care and research for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. 

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