The Strange Life of Pee-wee Herman Star Paul Reubens

Reubens’ voice lives on in the Star Wars universe at Disney Parks

In 1987, Reubens provided the voice for the pilot droid RX-24 aka Captain Rex in Star Tours, a Star Wars themed motion simulator attraction at Disneyland and Disney-MGM Studios at Walt Disney World (then, later, Disneyland Paris). Reubens also voiced the animatronic of DJ Rex in Oga’s Cantina at Walt Disney World’s Galaxy’s Edge.

Nike released a Pee-wee inspired shoe in 2007

Nike released a line of sneakers named Fallen Heroes in 2007, drawing inspiration from pop culture figures like MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, and Pee-wee Herman. The Pee-wee Herman sneakers featured a gray and white color scheme with red accents, including an insole illustration alluding to Reubens’ 1991 theater arrest, depicting a man sitting alone in a theater with his hand on his lap.

Reubens didn’t let fans know about his six-year health battle until he died

Reubens kept his six-year cancer journey private, and apologized to fans in a statement released posthumously. The comedian shared on social media after his passing “Please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing the last six years.” He conveyed his immense love and gratitude for his friends, fans, and supporters, and expressed the joy of having created art for them.

He took a two-year break from acting to care for his dying father

Credit: Peewee Herman via Facebook

Nearly two decades prior to Reubens’ passing, he supported his father, Milton Rubenfeld, until he succumbed to cancer on February 21, 2004. The Today Show reported in 2007 that Reubens had taken a two-year hiatus from the spotlight and moved to Florida to care for his terminally ill father.

His father was a founding member of the Israeli Air Force

Reubens’ father, Milton Rubenfeld, was an Israeli war hero during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Serving as a pilot for the British Royal Air Force and the U.S Army Air Forces in World War II, he played a significant role in establishing the Israeli Air Force, helping the Israeli nation in their War of Independence.

A young Reubens took his inspiration from the circus

Reubens spent his childhood frequently visiting the nearby Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Sarasota. The circus atmosphere thrilled Reubens and its influence can be seen in his later work. Big Top Pee-wee, a movie that sees a traveling circus appear in Pee-wee’s back yard, was released in 1988 as a sequel to 1985’s Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.

Reubens conceived of the Pee-wee Herman character while still at university

While studying acting at the California Institute of the Arts, Reubens dreamt up and honed his Pee-wee Herman persona through performances in comedy clubs, where Pee-wee’s quirky and childlike charm quickly gained a devoted fanbase. The character’s success in these intimate settings eventually led to Pee-wee’s television debut, captivating a wider audience and propelling Reubens’ career to new heights.

Reubens once had a ‘mock wedding’ with a tobacco heiress

Credit: Pee-wee Herman via Facebook

Though never legally married, Reubens had an intriguing dating history. In 1988, he was rumored to be dating Italian actress Valeria Golino after they attended the Academy Awards together. The next year, he engaged in a ‘mock wedding’ with Chandi Heffner, the adopted daughter of Doris Duke, the tobacco empire heiress, as reported by Vanity Fair.

He lent his iconic voice to the spacecraft AI in 80s classic Flight of the Navigator

Credit: Live for Films via Facebook

In the 1986 movie Flight of the Navigator, Reubens hilariously lent his voice to Max, the spaceship’s quirky artificial intelligence. With Reubens’ signature wit and charm, Max would prove a source of laughter and delight throughout the sci-fi adventure. His comedic talent added a unique and unforgettable dimension to the film, making it a firm 80s favorite.

Reubens was arrested for indecent exposure in 1991

In 1991, Reubens was arrested for exposing himself at South Trail Cinema in Sarasota, along with three others. This arrest resulted in Reubens being charged with indecent exposure. He later pleaded no contest, avoiding a charge on his record, but was still mandated to complete 75 hours of community service.