Cult Faction is sad to report that Paul Reubens has passed away at the age of 70 years old following a battle with cancer. The sad news was broken on Reubens’ Pee Wee Herman Instagram account:
Born as Paul Rubenfeld on August 27, 1952, in Peekskill, New York, Reubens demonstrated a passion for performing at an early age. Following his high school graduation, he attended Boston University, and began auditioning for acting schools. He was turned down by several schools, including the Juilliard School and twice by Carnegie Mellon University, before being accepted to the California Institute of the Arts. Reubens moved to California, where he worked in restaurant kitchens and as a Fuller Brush salesman.
Reubens teamed with Charlotte McGinnis as The Hilarious Betty and Eddie – the duo has four appearances on The Gong Show, this led to joining the Los Angeles–based improvisational comedy team The Groundlings. He remained a troupe member for six years, working with Bob McClurg, John Paragon, Susan Barnes, and Phil Hartman. Soon a small role in the Blues Brothers as a waiter followed.
In the late 1970s, Reubens developed the character of Pee-wee Herman, a quirky, childlike man-child with a distinctive red bowtie and high-pitched voice. Pee-wee quickly became a sensation on the Los Angeles comedy circuit, gaining a loyal following. In 1981, HBO aired “The Pee-wee Herman Show,” a stage production that laid the groundwork for the character’s future success.
Appearances followed in Mork and Mindy, Dream On!, Twilight Theatre, Pandemonium, Madame’s Place, and Maetballs Part II. Reubens starred in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure in 1985, Tim Burton’s directorial debut. The film became a cult classic, showcasing Reubens’ ability to balance childlike innocence with adult humor. In 1986, Reubens brought Pee-wee Herman to the small screen with “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” a children’s television show that blended humor, animation, and life lessons. The show’s imaginative world and catchy theme song captivated both kids and adults, earning critical acclaim and multiple awards, including several Daytime Emmy Award. Big Top Pee-wee” (1988), received mixed reviews but continued to highlight his talent for creating memorable characters.
Outside of Pee-Wee Herman, Reubens, credited as Paul Mall, voiced Max in Flight of the Navigator in 1986, as well as notched up appearances in Star Tours, Batman Returns, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
In 1991, Reubens faced personal and professional challenges when he was involved in a controversial incident that temporarily tarnished Pee-wee Herman’s wholesome image. Despite the setback, Reubens persevered, continuing to work in various acting and voice-over roles while maintaining a low profile with roles in The Nightmare Before Christmas, Dunston Checks In, Matilda, Murphy Brown, Doctor Dolittle, and Hercules. In 1999, Reubens played The Spleen in Mystery Men, a more high profile role. This led to parts in South of Heaven West of Hell, Everybody Loves Raymond, Blow, Ally McBeal, Rugrats and a whole lot more.
IN 2010 Pee-Wee returned in “Pee-Wee gets an Ipad,” this was followed up with “Pee-Wee Goes to Sturgus.” Guest appearances as Pee-wee on various television shows followed including WWE’s Monday Night RAW. More recent appearances include What We Do in the Shadows, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Voltron: Legendary Defender, Gotham, American Dad! and Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday.
Paul Reubens’ contributions to comedy and entertainment are immeasurable. His creation of Pee-wee Herman remains one of the most enduring and beloved characters in pop culture history. Reubens’ ability to blend childlike wonder with subversive humor has influenced countless comedians and performers over the years.