Paul Reubens — the comedic actor best known for playing Pee-wee Herman — is dead after a private battle with cancer.
Paul died Sunday night, according to a statement posted Monday on his Instagram account … a statement that revealed for the first the medical crisis with which he’d be dealing — “Paul bravely and privately fought cancer for years with his trademark tenacity and wit.”
The comedic icon will be forever remembered for his Pee-wee Herman character, which Paul created in 1978 during an improv exercise with the Groundlings. Paul worked with another comedy legend, the late Phil Hartman, to develop the character.
That led to the eventual launch of the “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” TV show in 1986 … which became a huge hit with kids and adults.
While Pee-wee is his most iconic role, Paul had been doing live comedy routines long before that. In addition to his time in the Groundlings, he made 14 appearances on “The Gong Show” back in the ’70s.
As for his cancer battle — Paul addressed it in a note he’d written, saying … “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. I have loved you all so much and enjoyed making art for you.”