Who is Paul Reubens?
Paul Reubens is an American actor, comedian, game show host and producer. He is best known for the children’s show ‘Pee-wee’s Playhouse,’ which earned much acclaim and several Emmy Awards and nominations. Reubens was born in New York and raised in Florida. He began his career with the comedy troupe ‘The Groundlings’. He made his film debut with a cameo role in the comedy film ‘Pray TV’ which made a spoof of televangelism. Other films he appeared in include ‘Meatballs Part II’, ‘Batman Returns’ and ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’. Reubens became well-known for his role in the TV special ‘The Pee-wee Herman Show’ which proved to be a massive hit. His character Pee-wee became a cult figure and helped the actor establish himself in the world of television. A movie based on the character, titled ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure’, was also made. It was followed by a sequel named ‘Big Top Pee-wee’. The actor is also a controversial figure. Reubens was once arrested on charges of indecent exposure and another time on charges of child pornography, which were later dropped in exchange for his guilty plea to a lesser charge.
Childhood & Early Life
Paul Reubens was born as Paul Rubenfeld in Peekskill, New York on 27th August 1952. His father was Milton Rubenfeld, an automobile salesperson, who later became one of the founding pilots of the Israeli Air Force during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. His mother was a teacher. He has two younger siblings named Luke and Abby.
His interest in a career in entertainment originated from frequenting The Ringling Brothers and Bamum & Bailey Circus. He went to Sarasota High School and later attended Plymouth State University in New Hampshire for a short while.
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Paul Reubens studied drama at the California Institute of the Arts, after which he started performing with the group named The Groundlings. It was during this time that he developed the character of Pee-wee, an innocent man-boy, who plays tricks on his friends.
He eventually started appearing in movies like ‘Pray TV’ (1980), ‘Dream On!’ (1981), and ‘Meatballs Part II (1984).
A TV special ‘The Pee-wee Herman Show,’ which aired in 1981 on HBO brought him and his character to mainstream popularity. He served as a writer and played the lead role in the film ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure’ which was released in 1985. It was the first feature film based on his Pee-wee character.
He reprised his role in the 1988 sequel named ‘Big Top Pee-Wee’ which was directed by Randal Kleiser. Unlike its prequel, the film was a commercial and critical failure.
From 1986 to 1990, he starred in the children’s show, ‘Pee-wee’s Playhouse’ which he himself created. The show earned much popularity and was also praised by the critics. It eventually received a cult status.
He played the father of the super-villain ‘Penguin’ in the 1992 superhero film ‘Batman Returns’. The same year, he also played an important role in the comedy horror film ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’. The film was a commercial success, though the reviews were mixed.
From 1995 to 1997, he played a guest role in the sitcom ‘Murphy Brown’ for which he an Emmy nomination. In 1998, he starred in the TV special ‘Pee-wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special’.
In the ensuing years, he appeared in films like ‘Blow’ (2001), ‘Reno 911!: Miami’ (2007), ‘The Smurfs’ (2011) and ‘The Smurfs 2’ (2013). In 2011, he starred in the TV special ‘The Pee-wee Herman Show’. It earned him another Emmy Award nomination.
Over the years, he has also played guest roles in various TV shows. From 2012 to 2013, he voiced a supporting character in the animated sci-fi TV series ‘Tron: Uprising’.
In 2016, he co-produced, co-wrote and played the lead role in ‘Pee-wee’s big Holiday’, the third feature film based on his Pee-wee character. The film, which was released on Netflix, was received positively by the critics.
Paul Reubens is best known for creating and playing the character Pee-wee Herman in several TV shows and films. The character first appeared in the 1981 HBO special named ‘The Pee-wee Herman Show’. Owing to the character’s growing popularity, Reubens took it to the big screen in the 1985 film ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,’ which also proved to be a hit.
In ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ a horror comedy film, he played an important role. Directed by Fran Rubel, the film is about a girl cheerleader who discovers that it is her fate to hunt vampires. The film was an average success commercially and reviews were mostly mixed.
Family & Personal Life
Paul Reubens has been arrested twice. The first time was in Florida, for indecent exposure in an adult theatre, in July 1991. The second time was in 2002, on charges of child pornography, which were later dropped.
He was previously married to Chandi Heffner, though not much is known about her and their married life. There are numerous rumours regarding his sexuality and it is often speculated that he is homosexual.