Pee-Wee Herman Star Paul Reubens’ Cause Of Death Confirmed

Pee-Wee Herman star Paul Reubens' cause of death has been disclosed.
Credit: Alamy

Paul Reubens, best known for his portrayal of the quirky and endearing Pee-wee Herman, has died at the age of 70. Now, his cause of death has been shared.

Reubens had been portraying the iconic fictional character since he conceived the persona in 1977 – a persona that originated as a stage act before securing its own HBO series in 1981.

Undoubtedly, Pee-wee Herman’s most renowned appearance graced the screens in the 1985 film Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, which astoundingly grossed a remarkable $40 million at the box office, surpassing its modest $7 million budget.

Yesterday (July 31), Reubens’ family confirmed that he had passed away.

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According to The Hollywood Reporter – who obtained his death certificate – it has been disclosed that the late actor died from a hypoxic respiratory failure.

This happens when the respiratory system cannot sufficiently provide oxygen to your body.

As revealed by his publicist in a statement, Reubens had been battling with cancer for six years – a private struggle he kept hidden from the public eye.

In an emotional message released posthumously, Reubens expressed heartfelt remorse for not disclosing his health challenges earlier.

He conveyed his profound gratitude to his legion of friends and supporters for their help throughout his career.

“I have loved you all so much and enjoyed making art for you,” he said.

With his tight grey suit and bow tie, the character Pee-wee was an instant hit among audiences of all ages.

Debuting on stage as part of The Groundlings improv group in the late 1970s, Pee-wee quickly captured hearts with the live show The Pee-wee Herman Show in 1981.

The success of the stage show laid the foundation for the iconic Saturday morning TV series, Pee-wee’s Playhouse, which garnered 22 Emmys and captivated both children and adults.

Paul Reubens
Paul Reubens’ cause of death has been confirmed. Credit: HBO

The Pee-wee universe was a wacky wonderland, adorned with talking armchairs and amiable pterodactyls.

The character’s catchphrases, such as ‘I know you are but what am I’, and the lively tabletop dance to the tune of ‘Tequila’ in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, endeared him to audiences worldwide.

The film Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, directed by Tim Burton and co-written by the late Phil Hartman, solidified Pee-wee’s status as a pop cultural phenomenon.

The nationwide escapade, as Pee-wee searched for his stolen beloved bike, earned the character a cult following for its offbeat charm.

Despite Pee-wee’s immense popularity, Reubens faced a challenging period in the early 1990s when he was arrested for indecent exposure in an adult movie theatre in Sarasota, Florida, his hometown.

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The incident drastically altered public perception and cast a shadow over his illustrious career.

Reubens reflected on the intense scrutiny and the negative impact it had on his life and reputation, vowing to protect his artistic integrity.

However, Reubens continued acting in non-Pee-wee roles, including appearances in films such as Batman Returns and Blow.

Eventually, he reclaimed Pee-wee with his Broadway adaptation of The Pee-wee Herman Show in 2010 and the 2016 Netflix film, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, produced by Judd Apatow.

In the wake of his passing, tributes have poured in from the entertainment industry and fans alike.

Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel hailed Reubens as a comedic genius who brought laughter to both children and their parents.

While director Guillermo del Toro referred to Reubens as a ‘patron saint’ of the quirky and wonderful.

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Written by Cal Gaunt

Cal is a former content editor at IGV who specialised in writing trending and entertainment news. He previously worked as a news reporter at the Lancashire Telegraph and earned an NCTJ in Sports Journalism.