Pee-wee Herman Dead: Paul Reubens’ Cause of Death

pee wee herman dead

Getty Pee Wee Herman.

Paul Reubens, better known by his comedic stage name Pee-wee Herman, is dead at the age of 70, according to a post on his official Facebook page on July 31, 2023.

His cause of death was cancer, although he kept the diagnosis private, the post says.

“Paul asked that any expressions of sympathy be made in honor of his late parents, Judy and Milton Rubenfeld, to Stand Up to cancer or organizations involved in Dementia and Alzheimer’s care, support and research,” the statement on his Facebook page said.

Here’s what you need to know:

A Statement on Pee-wee Herman’s Facebook Page Says Paul Reubens ‘Privately Fought Cancer’ for 6 Years

The post on his Facebook page says that Reubens “privately fought cancer for years.”

It reads:

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 type of cancer was not specified.


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A post shared by Pee-wee Herman (@peeweeherman)

The post about Reubens’ death was also shared on Reubens’ official Instagram page.

A statement attributed to Reubens and shared on his social media pages 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.”

His Instagram posts before the announcement of his death gave no indication that anything was wrong.

Pee-wee Herman, Who Was Raised in Florida, Found Fame on the Comedy Circuit

According to his IMDb profile, Reubens was born Paul Rubenfeld on August 27, 1952, in Peekskill, New York. His parents were a teacher and car salesman. His father had been in the air forces of the United States, United Kingdom and Israel, “becoming one of the latter country’s pioneering pilots,” the site says.

“Paul grew up in Sarasota, Florida, where his parents owned a lamp store,” it says, adding that Reubens had circus families among his neighbors growing up and was appearing in plays before he was a teenager.

According to IMDb, he branched out into comedy through The Groundlings troupe, and created the persona of Pee-wee Herman, described as a “funny man-child of indeterminate age and sexuality who created a sarcastic enthusiasm for the popular culture of the ’50s and ’60s.”

The character was modeled on his “geeky behavior” growing up, and he eventually created the Pee-wee Herman Show for a nightclub and HBO special, IMDb reported.

Eventually, he performed at Carnegie Hall, appeared on David Letterman’s show, and then starred in a featured film called “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.”

“The Pee-Wee Herman Show” (1981), ran for five sellout months at the Los Angeles’s Roxy nightclub, and HBO taped the performance and aired it as a special. This morphed into his live-action children’s program called “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” (1986), according to IMDb.

In recent years, he appeared in a “Batman” movie and a few other movies and television shows, his IMDb profile indicates.

Paul Reubens Faced High-Profile Legal Troubles That Derailed His Career

Reubens’ career derailed after a highly publicized arrest.

According to Entertainment Weekly, he was arrested in an adult movie theater in 1991 and was charged with exposing himself in Sarasota.

Three detectives were staking out the theater and saw Herman touching himself in the darkened theater, according to Entertainment Weekly.

He offered to “perform a children’s benefit for the sheriff’s office if the charges were dropped,” the site reported.

According to CBS News, in 2002, he was accused of “one misdemeanor count of possessing materials depicting children under the age of 18 engaged in sexual conduct.”

A 2004 article by NBC News reported that Reubens’ lawyer “determined that a tape seized in another case had been mistakenly included in the evidence against Reubens, and soon a plea bargain was in the works. Last month, the child pornography charge was dropped, with Rubens pleading guilty to a charge of obscenity instead.”

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