Actor and comedian Paul Reubens, best known for his character Pee-wee Herman, has died after a six-year battle with cancer. Reubens, who kept his illness private, issued a statement apologizing for not going public and expressing his love and appreciation for his friends, fans, and supporters.
Pee-wee Herman first came to prominence in the 1985 film "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" and the TV series "Pee-wee's Playhouse." Reubens created the character as part of the Los Angeles improv group The Groundlings in the late 1970s. The live "Pee-wee Herman Show" debuted in 1981 and gained popularity with both children and adults. HBO later aired the show as a special.
Reubens brought Pee-wee to the big screen in "Pee-wee's Big Adventure," a successful film directed by Tim Burton. The movie, loosely based on "The Bicycle Thief," followed Pee-wee on a nationwide adventure after his beloved bike is stolen. The film developed a cult following for its unique and whimsical style.
A less successful sequel, "Big Top Pee-wee," followed in 1988, and Pee-wee's next starring movie role didn't come until 2016's "Pee-wee's Big Holiday" on Netflix, produced by Judd Apatow.
"Pee-wee's Playhouse," Reubens' television series, ran for five seasons, earning multiple Emmys and attracting both children and adults. The show featured a quirky universe with talking furniture and a friendly pterodactyl.
Reubens insisted that his work was always intended for children, despite its appeal to adults. He described the creation of Pee-wee as a gut feeling and expressed a desire not to dissect or explain it, fearing it would ruin the magic.
Paul Reubens' death marks the end of an era for fans of Pee-wee Herman. His character brought joy and laughter to audiences of all ages, leaving a lasting impact on popular culture.