Natasha Lyonne, Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O’Brien and More Remember Paul Reubens: “A Brilliant and Original Comedian”

Natasha Lyonne, Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O’Brien and More Remember Paul Reubens: “A Brilliant and Original Comedian”

Hollywood stars are reacting to the the news of Paul Reubens’ death. The late actor known for playing Pee-wee Herman on stage, television and film died Monday at age 70. His death was announced on his official Facebook page revealing that the actor had cancer for years, a diagnosis he had not shared publicly.

“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,” a statement read. “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.”

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A statement from Reubens was also shared with the announcement, in which the late actor said, “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.”

Born Paul Rubenfeld, Reubens created his Pee-wee persona while with the Los Angeles comedy troupe The Groundlings in 1978 and later took the character to the stage. (He found inspiration for Pee-wee, from Howdy DoodyCaptain Kangaroo and Rocky and Bullwinkle.) He starred as Pee-wee in Warner Bros.’ Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985), directed by Tim Burton, and the 1988 sequel, Randal Kleiser’s Big Top Pee-wee. He also starred on the CBS Saturday morning children’s program Pee-wee’s Playhouse, which ran for five seasons from 1986-91.

Though his career suffered a setback in July 1991 when he was arrested for indecent exposure in an adult theater, Reubens later produced, co-wrote and starred in an updated revival of The Pee-wee Herman Show in Los Angeles and then on Broadway in 2010. He and Judd Apatow also produced a third Pee-wee film, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday in 2015.

Other credits include the Cheech & Chong films Next Movie (1980) and Nice Dreams (1981) and TV appearances on Late Night With David Letterman in 1982.

Natasha Lyonne, who made her made her TV debut on Pee-wee’s Playhouse when she was 6 years old, wrote in her tribute, “Love you so much, Paul. One in all time. Thank you for my career & your forever friendship all these years & for teaching us what a true original is.”

Laraine Newman, an original Saturday Night Live castmember, shared a photograph of herself with Reubens writing, “Paul and I first met in 1973 at Cal Arts. We remained friends for the next 50 years. Not day to day. Just the kind of friend that you can text out of nowhere or have a 3 hour lunch with. And don’t get me started on the birthday texts-he sent them ALL DAY. I feel sick.”

Jimmy Kimmel remembered Reubens in a social media tribute writing, “Paul Reubens was like no one else – a brilliant and original comedian who made kids and their parents laugh at the same time. He never forgot a birthday and shared his genuine delight for silliness with everyone he met. My family and I will miss him.”

Meanwhile, Conan O’Brien shared that there is “no tweet can capture the magic, generosity, artistry, and devout silliness of Paul Reubens. Everyone I know received countless nonsensical memes from Paul on their birthday, and I mean EVERYONE. His surreal comedy and unrelenting kindness were a gift to us all. Damn, this hurts.”

Dane Cook credited Reubens for bringing “so much joy to people over the years as Pee Wee.” “I was privileged to work with him in a film and he was as great in real life as he was on screen. Tough news here,” Cook wrote.

Paul Feig called the news of Reubens’ passing “devastating” and “truly heartbreaking.” He wrote, “Paul was such a comedy genius. From his Letterman appearances to his TV shows and movies, he was so original and hilarious. And such a sweet man too. This is a huge loss for comedy. Thanks for all the laughs, Paul.”

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Danny DeVito said, “Really loved working with him. Very sad.”

See the tributes as they pour in, below.