Paul Reubens, the American comedian who became famous in the 1980s for his role as the eccentric childlike adult Pee-wee Herman, died on Monday at the age of 70 after a six-year battle with cancer.
“Last night we said goodbye to Paul Reubens, an iconic American actor, comedian, writer and producer whose beloved character Pee-wee Herman entertained generations of children and adults with his positivity, childishness and belief in the importance of kindness,” reads a statement posted on the actor’s official social media.
“Paul bravely and privately fought cancer for many years with his characteristic tenacity and wit.”
A Facebook post posthumously included a quote written by Reubens.
“Please accept my apology for not disclosing what I have been through for the past six years. I have always felt a great amount of love and respect from my friends, fans and supporters,” he wrote.
“I loved you all so much and enjoyed making art for you.”
The comedian and television presenter Jimmy Kimmel referred to Reubens in a tribute as “a brilliant and original comedian” “who made children and their parents laugh at the same time”.
“”He never forgot a birthday and shared his genuine enjoyment of silliness with everyone he met. My family and I will miss him,” Kimmel wrote on social media.
Born in New York in 1952, Reubens began his career as a comedian in Los Angeles in the 1970s.
He named his famous character Pee-wee Herman in 1980 during a stage performance The Pee-wee Herman Show launched.
A hit series on HBO and a feature film with director Tim Burton followed. Reubens was also known for often staying in character during television interviews.
However, his career derailed in 1991 after he was arrested for indecent exposure at an adult theater in Florida in the US. The scandal was widely covered and Reubens disappeared from the public eye for several years.
He later played small roles in films like Blowstarring Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz, and television shows including 30 Rock and Ally McBeal.
His beloved persona Pee-wee later reappeared in a Broadway stage production. However, his last revival was in the 2016 Netflix picture Pee-wee’s Big Holiday.
Reubens was unmarried at the time of his death and had no children.