Actor Paul Reubens, best known for playing the character Pee-wee Herman in television and film, has died at the age of 70.
According to a statement from his team, the actor passed away on Sunday night.
“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 on Facebook read.
The statement then continued explaining Reubens’ private battle with cancer.
“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.”
Included in the statement was a posthumous message from Reubens himself to fans.
“Please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing the last six years,” he wrote. “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.”
Reubens’ team then revealed a request from the late comedian in lieu of flowers.
“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 actor first created Pee-wee Herman over four decades ago as a member of the famed Los Angeles improv group The Groundlings. “The Pee-wee Herman Show” premiered at The Groundlings Theatre in 1981. It later moved to The Roxy on the Sunset Strip where it ran for five months.
Later, an HBO broadcast of the show introduced Pee-wee Herman to the rest of the country.
In 1985, Pee-wee hit the big screen with “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” which Reubens co-wrote. It also marked Tim Burton’s first feature film directorial debut. The movie was a hit and grossed $40 million. It also helped make Pee-wee a pop-culture phenom.
Reubens then went on to create, co-write and co-direct the Emmy-award winning “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” on CBS. The series earned 15 Emmys during its five-year run.
Reubens himself was nominated for three Emmys for his portrayal of Pee-wee.
The beloved character returned to the movies in 1988’s “Big Top Pee-wee,” which Reubens co-wrote and co-produced as well. That same year he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Reubens’ work in Hollywood wasn’t all Pee-wee related. He also starred in “What We Do In The Shadows,” “The Blacklist,” “Portlandia,” “30 Rock,” “Pushing Daisies,” “Reno 911,” “Everybody Loves Raymond” “The Blues Brothers,” “Blow” and more.
In 2010, Reubens made a return to his iconic character in an updated revival of “The Pee-wee Herman Show” in Los Angeles. The show later went on to Broadway to rave reviews.
“The Pee-wee Herman Show on Broadway” aired on HBO and was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Special.
In 2015, he teamed with Judd Apatow to produce the third Pee-wee film, “Pee-wee’s Big Holiday” on Netflix. Reubens and Paul Rust wrote the movie and it co-starred Joe Manganiello.
Prior to his death, Reubens’ team said that he had penned the first draft of his memoir and was working on finishing up two more Pee-wee movie scripts. They said he was even developing projects for TV, which included a variety show and a western called “Fancypants.”