Paul Reubens 1952-2023

The world lost a comedic legend on Sunday night as we said goodbye to the actor/comedian Paul Reubens, after losing a private battle with cancer.

What’s Happening:

  • The actor best known for his character creation Pee-Wee Herman, Paul Reubens, died on Sunday after a private battle with cancer.

  • A message written by Reubens before his passing was posted to his Instagram page today, reading “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.”
  • His estate added to the post, “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. 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.”
  • In 1985, after over a decade performing with the improv group, The Groundlings, where he created his iconic character, Reubens teamed up with director Tim Burton to bring Pee-Wee to the big screen in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. This would also serve as an important relationship as Burton borrowed Reuben’s talents numerous times over the years, including his performance of the voice of Lock, one-third of the troublesome trio of children in the 1993 hit, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. A role he reprised over the years in various entries into the franchise, including video games and live concerts.
  • Just after the debut of Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, he could be heard in 1986’s Flight of the Navigator, providing the voice of Max, the ship’s robotic pilot that commands the ship. Don’t look for his name in the credits, though. There, he was credited as “Paul Mall” for his performance.

  • If that sounds a bit familiar, that’s because his role as Max is what landed him another robotic pilot role, that of RX-24 in the iconic Disney Parks attraction, Star Tours, as it appeared in its original form since 1986 until 2010, when the attractions started to close globally to make way for Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, where RX-24 was replaced by C-3PO. He reprised this role again in an episode of Star Wars: Rebels, “Droids in Distress,” and later returned as RX-24 became DJ-R3X in Oga’s Cantina at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
  • In 2012, he got behind the mic again to provide the voice of Pavel in the series, Tron: Uprising, a spin off of the cult-classic Tron film series. The series only lasted one season, and was set before the 2010 film, Tron: Legacy.
  • For Disney, he also appears in 1980’s Midnight Madness, and heard as Fife in Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, the Milkman in Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero, Dennis in 2004’s Teacher’s Pet: The Movie, and as Professor Parenthesis in an episode of Phineas and Ferb.
  • In terms of the Walt Disney Company, much of Reubens’ acting contributions were largely voice work for films, television, and the Disney Parks. You can also see a very rare bit of Paul Reubens’ voice work in the screen test below, where he provided the voice of Roger Rabbit (ultimately voiced by Charles Fleischer) when Who Framed Roger Rabbit was in early development.

  • Our hearts go out to Reubens’ friends and family at this sad time.

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Tony Betti
Originally from California where he studied a dying artform (hand-drawn animation), Tony has spent most of his adult life in the theme parks of Orlando. When he’s not writing for LP, he’s usually watching and studying something animated or arguing about “the good ole’ days” at the parks.