Paul Reubens (August 27, 1952 - July 30, 2023) was an American actor, writer, film producer, game show host, and comedian, best known for his character Pee-wee Herman. Reubens joined the Los Angeles troupe The Groundlings in the 1970s and started his career as an improvisational comedian and stage actor. In 1982 he began appearing in a show about a character he had been developing for years. The show, called The Pee-wee Herman Show, ran for five sold-out months, and HBO produced a successful special about it.
Pee-wee became an instant cult figure and, for the next decade, Reubens was completely committed to his character, doing all of his public appearances and interviews as Pee-wee. His feature film Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985), directed by the then-unknown Tim Burton, was a financial and critical success and soon developed into a cult film. Its sequel, Big Top Pee-wee (1988), was less successful. Between 1986 and 1990, Reubens starred as Pee-wee in the CBS Saturday-morning children's program Pee-wee's Playhouse.