The iconic actor, writer and comedian most famous for his generational character Pee Wee Herman was privately battling cancer for years.
Cult champion, pioneering character actor, pop culture icon and beloved figure of stage and screen Paul Ruebens has sadly passed away at the age of 70. In a statement shared to Ruebens’ social media platform, the announcement was made that the cherished hero for generations had succumb to a private battle with cancer.
“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.”
The statement continued, “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.”
Before passing, Ruebens was able to pen a heartfelt statement confiding the duration of his illness and expressing his gratitude for his supporters.
“Please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing the last six years,” Reubens said in a statement. “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.”
Ruebens also asked that if any fans and followers felt inclined to express their sympathy, they do so in the name of Ruebens’ departed parents Judy and Milton Rubenfeld and donate to non-profit organization Stand Up to Cancer or any organization dedicated to the support of treatment and research of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Ruebens cemented his legacy as a pop culture hero during his rise to fame in the 80s, taking a offbeat, lighthearted, whimsical character in Pee Wee Herman to super stardom. The success of his stage show that juxtaposed subversive humor with youthful levity led to a blockbuster big screen debut with Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, a film that marked the directorial debut of Tim Burton.
Ruebens would remain an enduring figure outside of his role as Pee-Wee Herman, starring in countless roles in film and television spanning from feature films, reoccurring series roles and even music videos. In 2010, Ruebens revived the stage show and introduced Pee Wee to a Broadway audience. In 2016, famed director Judd Apatow brought Pee Wee Herman into the streaming era with a reboot of sorts with the release of Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday via Netflix.