Pee-Wee Herman Actor Paul Reubens Dead At 70

Actor Paul Reubens attends the premiere of "Pee-wee's Big Holiday" during the 2016 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at Paramount Theatre on March 17, 2016 in Austin, Texas.
Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for SXSW

Pee-wee Herman actor Paul Reubens died on Sunday night following a private battle with cancer over the last six years. He was 70 years old.

The news was announced Monday in a statement posted on the late actor’s Instagram account that 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,” his statement added. “I have loved you all so much and enjoyed making art for you.”

Along with Reubens’ statement was a caption from his estate that read, “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,” it added. “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’ career took off in the 1980’s when he landed on the big screen in Tim Burton’s “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” in 1985. The success led the star to reprise his famed Pee-wee Herman character for a children’s TV show called “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse,” which ran on CBS from 1986-1990.

In 1991, the actor ran into legal trouble and pleaded no contest to indecent exposure, the New York Times noted. In 2004, Reubens pled guilty to a misdemeanor obscenity charge involving obscene material and was sentenced to three years probation, Reuters noted. However, his career in acting continued, with a long line in credits on both the big and small screen.

Following news of his death, many celebrities paid tribute to the man they said made them laugh.

Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel wrote, “Paul Reubens was like no one else – a brilliant and original comedian who made kids and their parents laugh at the same time. He never forgot a birthday and shared his genuine delight for silliness with everyone he met. My family and I will miss him.”

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