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|Also Known As:||Paul Rubenfeld, Paul Mall, Pee-Wee Herman||Died:|
|Born:||August 27, 1952||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Peekskill, New York, USA||Profession:||comedian, actor, producer, set decorator, title designer, TV host, writer, composer, pizza chef, Fuller Brush salesman|
Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY
show was an innovative blend of ornate set design and techniques in clay and stop-motion animation, as well as puppetry mixed with some Groundlings-style character development. For the series, Reubens brought back some old friends like Jon Paragon's Jambi the Genie, Phil Hartman's Captain Carl and Lynne-Marie Stewart's Miss Yvonne, along with a host of new characters over the years such as the King of Cartoons, Conky the Robot and Cowboy Curtis, played by then-rising star Laurence Fishburne. During its run, "Pee-wee's Playhouse" won 25 Emmy Awards in total, including three for Reubens' acting, and resulted in a special, "Pee-wee Herman's Christmas Special" (1988).Though Pee-wee Herman kept putting in small appearances in such projects as the sitcom, "227" (NBC, 1985-1990); Paramount's Annette Funicello-Frankie Avalon vehicle "Back to the Beach" (1987); and Dolly Parton's variety show, "Dolly" (ABC, 1987-88), the success of "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" made a sequel inevitable. Co-written with "Playhouse" writer George McGrath, "Big Top Pee-wee" (1988) was clearly close to its creator's heart, with Pee-wee now engaged and the owner of a small-town farm. When a circus blows into town on the heels of a...
show was an innovative blend of ornate set design and techniques in clay and stop-motion animation, as well as puppetry mixed with some Groundlings-style character development. For the series, Reubens brought back some old friends like Jon Paragon's Jambi the Genie, Phil Hartman's Captain Carl and Lynne-Marie Stewart's Miss Yvonne, along with a host of new characters over the years such as the King of Cartoons, Conky the Robot and Cowboy Curtis, played by then-rising star Laurence Fishburne. During its run, "Pee-wee's Playhouse" won 25 Emmy Awards in total, including three for Reubens' acting, and resulted in a special, "Pee-wee Herman's Christmas Special" (1988).
Though Pee-wee Herman kept putting in small appearances in such projects as the sitcom, "227" (NBC, 1985-1990); Paramount's Annette Funicello-Frankie Avalon vehicle "Back to the Beach" (1987); and Dolly Parton's variety show, "Dolly" (ABC, 1987-88), the success of "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" made a sequel inevitable. Co-written with "Playhouse" writer George McGrath, "Big Top Pee-wee" (1988) was clearly close to its creator's heart, with Pee-wee now engaged and the owner of a small-town farm. When a circus blows into town on the heels of a terrible storm, the troupe soon decides to put on a local circus starring the bowtie-wearing hero, who falls for its beautiful acrobat. Sadly, the movie proved uninteresting to viewers and ultimately unsuccessful, lacking both the innocent charm and inspiration that propelled its predecessor.
On July 26, 1991, Reubens faced what was perhaps the second biggest challenge in his successful career. While visiting family in Sarasota, he was arrested for allegedly exposing himself during a screening at a local adult movie theater. He was charged with indecent exposure, took a plea of no contest and received a fine. The incident had a very strong, but mixed public reaction. Disney swiftly axed the presence of Pee-wee Herman in one of its tour attractions and CBS cancelled five scheduled re-runs of "Playhouse." The show was already set to end, although not due to cancellation. A creatively spent Reubens had, in fact, earmarked the fifth season as a time to finally give his Pee-wee persona a rest. For many, the reality of Reubens' arrest seemed irrevocably tied to the make-believe character, but not everyone was ready to condemn the actor behind the suit. When he appeared onstage as Pee-wee at the "MTV Video Music Awards" in September of 1991, it was to an unabashed standing ovation.
Though he felt mortified by the scandal, Reubens ultimately decided to forge ahead with his career, simply reverting back to being the actor Paul Reubens. In the year after his arrest, old friend Tim Burton put him into a walk-on cameo as the Penguin's father in the opening of the big-budget blockbuster, "Batman Returns" (1992). He also landed a small, but significant role as a menacing, smarmy ghoul in the horror satire, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1992), provided a voice for Burton's animated "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993), and in 1995, landed a recurring role as a sarcasm-laden television executive on CBS' long-running sitcom "Murphy Brown" (1988-1998). At this point, he had even begun to re-develop an old pilot idea for executive Warren Littlefield at NBC called "Meet the Muckles," a big sitcom about a madcap performing family. Three years, a couple of producers, and a trio of production companies later, Littlefield was fired and Reubens' trepidations about returning to TV screens on a weekly basis kicked in. Nonetheless, appearances in the Danny DeVito-directed "Matilda" (1996) and the successful Eddie Murphy vehicle "Doctor Dolittle" (1998) was proof enough that Reubens had not worn out his welcome with the studios and that all seemed forgiven. In August of 1999, he even landed a lead role as The Spleen in Universal Studios' summer comedy, "Mystery Men" (1999).
In 2001, Reubens wowed film critics with his portrayal of Derek Foreal, a hairdresser who partners in the cocaine business with Johnny Depp's George Jung in "Blow" (2001). Only a year earlier, he had given a dark performance as a cowboy in Dwight Yoakum's western drama "South of Heaven, West of Hell" (2000). It had finally seemed that despite his arrest, the shedding of Pee-wee Herman a decade earlier had perhaps reinvigorated Reubens' creative spirit. But the law came intruding upon his life again, this time much more seriously than in Florida. In November 2002, Reubens was arrested on the charge that he was in possession of child pornography. An internet sting brought Reubens to the attention of the Los Angeles police, and some 30,000 or more pieces of rare and vintage erotica and several computers were taken into evidence during a subsequent house raid. Even after friends like Courteney Cox-Arquette and David Arquette publicly leapt to his defense, Reubens took a plea bargain and was sentenced to a three-year probation period. His charge was later reduced to one of obscenity, but he always contended that the material confiscated was legally collected artwork of rare historical value as opposed to pornography.
Once again, facing a career-ending scandal, Reubens found he still had good will within the entertainment industry and was able to work. He voiced one of the characters in Disney's animated feature, "Teacher's Pet" (2004), then went back to doing comedy work in big profile television comedies such as the Comedy Central "Cops" satire, "Reno 911!" (2003-09) and NBC's "30 Rock" (2006- ). He also signed up to appear in the movie version of "Reno 911!" entitled "Reno 911!: Miami" (2007). After some careful thought, Reubens finally felt the time was right to revisit his most famous creation as "Pee-wee's Playhouse" DVD sets had been released to a surprisingly enthusiastic reception in 2004. As he began to rally the troupes for a return to the Playhouse, Reubens kept himself busy with various film and television endeavors. Putting his quirky vocals to excellent use, he played the recurring character of Reuben on the bizarre fantasy cartoon "Chowder" (Cartoon Network, 2007-2010), as well as the trickster alien Bat-Mite for several episodes of the animated cartoon-adventure "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" (Cartoon Network, 2008- ). In one of his more somber feature film roles he turned up in indie filmmaker Todd Solondz¿s comedy-drama "Life During Wartime" (2009) as a deceased ex-boyfriend appearing in the visions of a troubled woman (Shirley Henderson).
Finally, Reubens¿ quest to bring Pee-wee back to the public bore fruit with a live stage show that combined the best of the original incarnation with new material. After performing to packed houses at Los Angeles¿ Nokia Theater for a four-week run in early 2010, Reubens moved the reinvigorated "The Pee-wee Herman Show" to the Stephen Sondheim Theatre in New York City. Accompanied by his familiar cadre of puppets and talking furniture, in addition to original castmates like Lynne Marie Stewart as Miss Yvonne and new additions like Phil LaMarr filling in for Laurence Fishburne as Cowboy Curtis, Reubens thrilled nostalgic fans nationwide with the taped-for-TV movie "The Pee-wee Herman Show on Broadway" (HBO, 2011). Reubens continued to provide his unique brand of vocal dexterity to films like "The Smurfs" (2011) and the animated sci-fi adventure series "Tron: Uprising" (Disney XD, 2012- ).a big hit with audiences upon its release in July of 1985, offered everything that was fresh and innovative about the character and expanding it into a more imaginative world.
After finally making his own film, Reubens took Pee-wee Herman and returned to New York that November, wrapping up the year by hosting "Saturday Night Live" in character. In 1986, Reubens seized an opportunity to give Pee-wee his own kids' show for CBS, hence the creation of "Pee-wee's Playhouse" (1986-1991), which became a popular Saturday morning offering with kids as well as adults. The
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CAST: (feature film)
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"All I can say about Paul is that he is one of the most creative people I know. Very serious and un-Pee-wee-like in person. He had to approve every story idea I came up with for political correctness. At first I had the popsicles and fudgecicles rapping in the freezer but he thought it was too racist so I made them ice-fishers hoisting up presents from the fridge below. He approved the idea and I scrapped trhe rappers." --Bill O'Neil, creator of "Life in the Fridge" segments from "Pee-wee's Playhouse"
During the five-year run of "Pee-wee's Playhouse", Reubens was nominated for 22 Daytime Emmy Awards in various categories including Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series.
"I'm lower-key than people think I am." --Reubens to Vanity Fair, September 1999.
"If somebody thinks that I'm creepy or a pedophile, all I can say it's not ture."---Reubens on his 2002 arrest for child pornography EW April 9, 2004
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