July 31st – One of the icons of Generation X passed away at 70 years old after quietly battling cancer for the past 6 years. Paul Reubens, better known as Pee-Wee Herman, television star, movie star, comedian and true entertainment artist.
“Please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing the last six years,” Reubens wrote in a short statement posted to Instagram after his death. “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.”
“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,” Reubens’ estate wrote in the caption of the post. “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.”
Pee Wee’s Playhouse aired from 1986 to 1991.
By today’s standards, like most children’s shows during this period, Pee Wee’s Playhouse had an adult edge to the humor.
Pee-Wee’s Playhouse wasn’t just popular among children, though. Tweens and teenagers were drawn in by the edgy tone, but silly concept. The success led to a full length film proposal, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure was coming to the big screen!
Unlike the Hollywood of today, Hollywood in 1985 couldn’t miss. The goals were different then, the top priority was making money, and there’s no better way to make money than to simply entertain your audience. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure delivered. The laugh. The dorkiness. Everything worked and was cinematic magic.
There was also this scene that absolutely terrified 13 year old me.
Perhaps the biggest winners of the success of Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, were The Champ’s and their song from 1958 “Tequila”
A paltry $6 million budget, the film brought in almost $4.5 million in the first weekend and would go on to gross over $41 million. Success with a movie in the 80’s guaranteed one thing, a sequel.
Big Top Pee-Wee wasn’t as successful as the original movie, only bringing in $15 million. It was more Pee-Wee but not really a sequel with basically a new cast. E.G. Daily not being in the sequel was a disappointment, but that may have just been me.
Of course, as with most Hollywood stars, Paul had some troubles when the spotlight dimmed, but that’s for another time. Today we celebrate the joy, and memories of a great part of our childhood. Rest in Peace Mr. Reubens, and thank you for the laughs.