Paul Reubens: ‘Pee Wee Herman’ Actor Passes Away Aged 70

Image of Paul Reubens as Pee Wee Herman.

Image of Paul Reubens as Pee Wee Herman. Credit: Alan Light/Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

THE American actor Paul Reubens, best known for playing the character ‘Pee Wee Herman’, passed away on Sunday evening, July 30. His death at the age of 70 was reported this Monday 31 by

A posthumous message posted by Paul’s estate on his official Instagram profile following his death, 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’.

It continued: ‘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’, the statement concluded.

He joined the Groundlings in the 1970s

The late star began his career as an improvisational comedian and stage actor in the 1970s when he joined the Groundlings, a live comedy troupe based in Los Angeles.

In 1977, the troupe staged a performance in which its members created characters one might see in a comedy club. Reubens had been working on developing a fictional comic character for several years and that was the night that ‘Pee Wee Herman’ first appeared.

A stage production called ‘The Pee-wee Herman Show’ opened in 1980. It featured his distinctive guttural ‘Ha Ha’, followed by a low, ‘Heh Heh Heh’ laugh that became the character’s catchphrase, as did his insult comeback, ‘I know you are, but what am I?.

HBO approached him to film a television special

As a result of its resounding success – with a sold-out run of five months at the Roxy Theatre in L.A. – HBO approached Reubens with the offer of making a television special. Pee Wee Herman became so iconic that during public appearances and interviews, the actor would stay in character.

A full-length film was spawned in 1985. Reubens teamed up with the now-legendary Tim Burton to make ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure’.

It was of course a massive financial and critical success and three years later, this time with Randal Kleiser, they followed it up with ‘Big Top Pee-Wee’ in 1988. After a lengthy hiatus, a third film, ‘Pee-wee’s Big Holiday’, was released by Netflix in 2016.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at