Paul Reubens, the actor and comedian whose Pee-wee Herman character — an overgrown child with a tight gray suit and an unforgettable laugh — became a 1980s pop cultural phenomenon, has died at 70.
Reubens, who’s character delighted fans in the film “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” and on the TV series “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” died Sunday night after a six-year struggle with cancer that he kept private, his publicist said in a statement.
“Please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing the last six years,” Reubens said in a statement released Monday with the announcement of his death. “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.”
Created for the stage, Pee-wee with his white chunky loafers and red bow tie would become a cultural constant in both adult and children’s entertainment for much of the 1980s, though an indecent exposure arrest in 1991 would send the character into entertainment exile for years.