Paul Reubens, the children’s entertainer known as Pee-wee Herman, has died after a battle with cancer. He was 70.
Reubens’ estate confirmed news of his death on his official Instagram page Monday.
“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,” the announcement read.
“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.”
The post included a quote from Reubens himself, apologizing to fans for dealing with his health privately.
“Please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing the last six years,” he said.
“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.”
Reubens is best known as Pee-wee Herman, a fictional and comedic character Reubens developed in the 1970s that he premiered in stage shows for the Los Angeles improv troupe “The Groundlings.”
The man-child character was so popular he eventually nabbed an HBO special and later, a 1985 film with Tim Burton, “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” in which Reubens toned down the innuendo to make Pee-wee family-friendly.
In 1986 CBS launched “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” a Saturday morning children’s program that ran until 1990.
The character was revived after a long hiatus in 2010 for the stage show “The Pee-wee Herman Show,” which ran in LA and on Broadway, and six years later by Netflix for the film “Pee-wee’s Big Holiday,” produced by Judd Apatow and co-starring Joe Manganiello.