The comedian who became famous for playing Pee-wee Herman consciously withheld information from his devoted followers for years on his personal health battle. Determine what killed Paul Reubens.
What was Paul Reubens’ cause of death?
Paul Reubens passed away on July 30, 2023, after a quiet, six-year struggle with cancer. He was in his seventies.
“Please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing the last six years,” said the post on his official Instagram. I have always been surrounded by an incredible amount of support from family, friends, and admirers. I’ve cherished being able to express my feelings for you through my work.
TMZ reports that Reubens’ brain tumor was initially found back in 2012. At the time, doctors operated to remove the tumor, but they have not revealed what kind of cancer finally proved fatal for Reubens. It wasn’t until after Reubens’ death that nobody, not even close friends like actress E.G. Daily, learned he had cancer.
I was completely unaware of his cancer struggle. According to TMZ, “I sensed something was going on. From what he was saying, I could tell that he was not wanting to be out or seen.” She went on to say that Reubens “felt fragile” and turned down social invitations he normally would have accepted.
How old was Pee-wee Herman when he died?
At the time of his passing, Reubens was 70 years old. However, Pee-wee Herman as a character and the legacy he left behind will no doubt endure long after his death.
In 2016, Reubens revealed to PEOPLE that he had spent years resisting the need to break away from his Pee-wee character.
“I went out of my way for quite some time to try and make people think that he was a real person and there wasn’t an actor behind it all,” he said of the character, which he originally created for the legendary Groundlings improv theater. However, after years of arduous work as the character—including two feature films created while filming Pee-wee’s Playhouse—he eventually grew weary of playing the part.
“I never said, ‘I don’t want to be Pee-wee anymore,’ ” Reubens clarified. I really like my work, but I felt like I needed a break.
Reubens’ representative verified to PEOPLE that Reubens had written two Pee-wee Herman feature scripts before his death. In 2016, he revived the Pee-wee persona for Pee-wee’s Big Holiday on Netflix. It’s possible we’ll see the character again, though it’s doubtful anyone else could fill his shoes.
Why did the Pee-wee Herman show get canceled?
The original run of Pee-wee’s Playhouse concluded in 1990, but reruns were canceled the year after Reubens was arrested for indecent exposure at an adult movie theater.
He had earlier commented to NBC News (via The Associated Press), “The moment that I realized my name was going to be said in the same sentence as children and sex, that’s really intense.” I knew at that precise second that no matter what happened next, something terrible was in the air.
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