Paul Reubens (Pee-wee Herman)
Paul Reubens is an American actor, writer, film producer, game show host, and comedian who is globally recognized for his character, Pee-wee Herman. Reubens passed away from cancer at age 70 in July 2023.
Reubens’ career in the entertainment industry has been varied and full of interesting turns. The character Pee-wee Herman, which he created and brought to life in the late 1970s, remains one of his most enduring contributions. The character, a quirky and childlike man, debuted in a stage show, which eventually led to the 1981 HBO special The Pee-wee Herman Show. The success of the special brought the character to wider audience, leading to the critically acclaimed Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985), directed by Tim Burton, which became a box office hit. This film was followed by Big Top Pee-wee (1988) and the CBS Saturday-morning children’s program, Pee-wee’s Playhouse (1986-1991), which became a cultural phenomenon and catapulted Reubens into the limelight. Outside of Pee-wee, Reubens has had a variety of roles in movies such as Blow (2001), where he received critical acclaim for his portrayal of drug trafficker Derek Foreal, and Mystery Men (1999).
The course of Reubens’ career has seen him collaborate with numerous esteemed figures in the entertainment industry. One of the most significant of these collaborations was with director Tim Burton for Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. The success of this collaboration paved the way for Burton’s subsequent acclaimed career. Reubens has also worked with esteemed actors like Laurence Fishburne and S. Epatha Merkerson on Pee-wee’s Playhouse. In film, his collaborators include Johnny Depp in Blow, Ben Stiller and Geoffrey Rush in Mystery Men, and Danny DeVito in Matilda (1996). Reubens’ wide range of collaborations across film and television highlight his versatility and adaptability in various roles.
Throughout his career, Reubens has received multiple awards and distinctions for his unique contributions to the entertainment industry. For his role in Pee-wee’s Playhouse, he received two Daytime Emmy Awards in 1987 and 1988 for Outstanding Performer in a Children’s Series. Moreover, Pee-wee’s Playhouse itself was honored with a total of 15 Emmy Awards during its run. Beyond his role as Pee-wee, Reubens received critical acclaim for his supporting role in Blow, which earned him a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the 2002 Central Ohio Film Critics Association.