Amber Garrett and Dan Clarendon
New York Daily News
Actor Paul Reubens, best known for his character Pee-wee Herman, has died at age 70 after a private battle with cancer.
The comedian himself shared the news Monday in a statement that was posted to his Instagram account Monday. It did not provide a specific cancer diagnosis.
“Please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing the last six years,” wrote Reubens in the post. “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.”
“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 post was accompanied by a statement from Reubens’ estate: “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.”
Reubens developed the character of Pee-wee as he honed his comedy chops at Los Angeles improv troupe The Groundlings in the 1970s. The character made its TV debut in several “Dating Game” appearances. He then introduced Pee-wee to audiences in a stage show, the CBS Saturday morning series “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” and films including 1985′s “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” directed by Tim Burton.
Off-screen, the actor pleaded no contest to charges of indecent exposure in 1991 after allegedly exposing himself in an adult movie theater. Upon his arrest, CBS pulled his children’s show from the air. But many in Hollywood came to Reubens’ defense, considering the venue where the exposure took place and pointing out that, while Reubens was a star in a children’s show, he was an adult man and entitled to have a private life.
But legal troubles continued to follow Reubens. He later pleaded guilty to a charge of obscenity in 2004 regarding photographs from his erotica collection, according to The Associated Press.
After striking a plea deal in the case, Reubens defended himself, explaining the images in question, which according to the charges included subjects under the age of 18, were part of a vintage photo collection. “You can say that I’m different, that I’m freaky, that I’m weird — you can say lots of stuff about me. But you can’t say I’m a pedophile,” he told Entertainment Weekly in 2004. “That’s just not a part of who I am. I am not a child pornographer.”
In recent years, Reubens starred in the HBO show “Mosaic” and guest-starred on FX’s “What We Do in the Shadows,” The CW’s “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” and ABC’s “The Conners.”
In March 2010, he premiered an updated version of his Pee-wee stage show for Broadway at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. HBO filmed the production and aired “The Pee-wee Herman Show on Broadway” in 2011.
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