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Paul Reubens (born Paul Rubenfeld; August 27, 1952) is an American actor, writer, film producer 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 Reubens put up a show about a character he had been developing during the last few years. The show was called The Pee-wee Herman Show and it ran for five sellout months with HBO producing a successful special with it. Pee-wee became an instant cult figure and for the next decade Reubens would be completely committed to his character, doing all of his public appearances and interviews as Pee-wee. In 1985 Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, directed by the then-unknown Tim Burton, was a financial success and, despite receiving mixed reviews, it developed into a cult film. Big Top Pee-wee, 1988′s sequel, was not as successful as its predecessor. Between 1986 and 1990, Reubens starred as Pee-wee in the CBS Saturday morning children’s program, Pee-wee’s Playhouse.
In July 1991, after deciding to take a couple of years’ sabbatical from Pee-wee, Reubens was arrested for indecent exposure in an adult theater inSarasota, Florida. The arrest set off a chain reaction of national media attention that changed the general public’s view of Reubens and Pee-wee. The arrest postponed Reubens’ engagement in big projects until 1999, when he appeared in the big-budget Mystery Men and Blow, and started giving interviews as himself rather than as Pee-wee.
Since 2006, Reubens has been making cameos and guest appearances in numerous projects, such as Reno 911!, 30 Rock, Dirt and Pushing Daisies. Since the 1990s, he has worked on two possible Pee-wee films — one dark and adult, dubbed The Pee-wee Herman Story, and one a family-friendly epic adventure called Pee-wee’s Playhouse: The Movie.
In early 2010 Herman played Pee-wee in a new production of The Pee-wee Herman Show at Club Nokia. He is also working on a new film, Pee-wee’s Playhouse: The Movie.
Pee Wee Herman
In the 1970s, Reubens joined the Los Angeles-based improvisational comedy team The Groundlings and remained a member for six years, working with Bob McClurg, John Paragon, Susan Barnes, and Phil Hartman. Hartman and Reubens became friends, often writing and working on material together. Reubens wrote sketches and developed his improvisational skills. He also forged a significant friendship and working relationship with Hartman, with whom he developed the Pee-wee Herman character.
In 1977, The Groundlings staged a performance in which its members created characters that one might see in a comedy club. Reubens decided to play a guy that everyone immediately knew would never make it as a comic, partly because Reubens couldn’t remember jokes in real life – he had trouble remembering punch lines and couldn’t properly piece information in sequential order. Saying that Pee-wee Herman was born that night, his distinctive guttural “Ha Ha,” followed by a low “Heh Heh Heh,” laugh became the character’s catch phrase, as has his insult comeback “I know you are, but what am I?”
Pee-wee Herman’s signature grey glen plaid suit was originally a custom-made suit that Reubens had borrowed from the Groundlings director, Gary Austin; the small red bow tie was given to him by an acquaintance. Pee-wee’s later checkered clothing and persona were largely lifted from manic 1950s children’s TV host Pinky Lee. Also incorporated into the look were short black hair, pale skin with red rouge, and red lipstick.
The inspiration for the name came from a Pee-weiny herman brand miniature harmonica and the surname of an energetic boy Reubens knew from his youth. Reubens thought the name Pee-wee Herman was a name that sounded too real to be made up, and like a real name a parent would give a child that they didn’t really care about.
Character background and personality
Throughout his film and television programs, Pee-wee Herman’s background has remained relatively ambiguous. During interviews, he has been portrayed as though he is a real life stand-up comedian, who expanded his career by playing himself in his films and TV series. This is echoed by the fact that a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was awarded to Pee-wee Herman rather than Paul Reubens. In both Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and Pee-wee’s Playhouse, the character surrounds himself with strange inventions and decorations and has no visible means of support, whereas Big Top Pee-wee depicts him as a farmer/inventor. During a June 1984 segment on Late Night with David Letterman, Pee-wee said that he has a sister named Hermione (who was a girl scout), his mother’s name is Honny Herman, and his father’s name is Herman Herman. He went on to say that everyone in his family has a first name that begins with an “H” except for him. This was again stated during a 1988 special which elaborated that Pee-wee was raised in Florida.
Pee-wee is commonly portrayed like an impatient and fun-loving child with dainty, effeminate mannerisms and quirky facial expressions. His age has never been explicitly stated; although, he once proclaimed on The Pee-wee Herman Show, “I’m the luckiest boy in the world.” David Letterman once said of the character, “What makes me laugh…is that it has the external structure of a bratty little precocious kid, but you know it’s being controlled by the incubus — the manifestation of evil itself.” While the character is typically cheerful and flamboyant, Pee-wee has indeed displayed an aggressive side, including his vicious pool battle with Francis in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. He also played vengeful tricks in the aforementioned film and occasionally threw childish tantrums on Pee-wee’s Playhouse.
Pee Wee’s Future
Pee Wee Herman in New Movie !! [here]