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Stars That Died

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pee-Wee Herman

Who is Paul Ruben? The world knows him as Pee-wee Herman .Paul Rubenfeld was born August 27, 1952 in Peekskill, New York, and grew up in Sarasota, Florida, where his parents, Judy and Milton, owned a lamp store. His mother was a teacher and his father also worked as an automobile salesperson[1] and had flown for the British in World War II, later becoming one of the founding pilots of the Israeli Air Force during the 1948 war of independence.[2] During winters, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus called Sarasota home, and young Paul counted such big-top families as the Wallendas and the Acchinis among his neighbors. The circus sparked his interest in entertainment. When he was 11 years old, he joined the local Asolo Theater and Players of Sarasota Theater, and during the next six years, he appeared in a variety of plays. After graduating from Sarasota High School in 1970, he attended Boston University for one year before deciding to seek his fortune as Paul Reubens in Hollywood. There, he enrolled as an acting major at the California Institute of the Arts and accepted a string of pay-the-rent jobs ranging from pizza chef to Fuller Brush salesman. In the 1970s, Reubens performed at local comedy clubs and made four guest appearances on The Gong Show. He soon 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. Paul 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. This performance gave birth to the Pee-wee Herman persona.

Reubens has a sister,[3] Abby Rubenfeld, a prominent Tennessee attorney and adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University Law School [4], who is the former chair of the Individual Rights and Responsibilities section of the American Bar Association [5] [6] and of the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association.

Reubens auditioned for Saturday Night Live for the 1980-1981 season, but wasn't accepted into the cast. Instead, he started a stage show with the Herman character. Originally, Reubens imbued "Pee-wee" with sexuality that was later toned down as the character made the transition from raucous nightclub to children's television (though innuendo was still apparent, particularly between the Cowboy Curtis and Miss Yvonne characters). The stage show was popularized by HBO when The Pee-wee Herman Show aired in 1981.
In 1980, Reubens landed a minor role in the film The Blues Brothers as a waiter.[8] That same year, he also had a slightly bigger role in the Disney film Midnight Madness. He also appeared in Cheech & Chong's 1981 film Nice Dreams, as an ill-mannered receptionist who is found by Chong snorting cocaine under a restaurant table. Reubens' character asks Chong, "You're the guy from the hamburger train, right?" (this line is later sampled by the rock group Primus in their song "Hamburger Train"). Reubens also appeared in Cheech & Chong's Next Movie (1980) and Meatballs Part II (1984).

Following the success of The Pee-wee Herman Show, in the early and mid 1980s Reubens made several guest appearances on Late Night with David Letterman as Pee-wee Herman. These performances gave Pee-wee an even bigger following than he had with his HBO special. In 1983, Pee-wee Herman traveled the United States with The Pee-wee Herman Show, making highly publicized stops at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and Caroline's in New York City.
In 1984, Pee-wee Herman sold out New York City's Carnegie Hall. Reubens went on to say that it was his appearances on David Letterman's show that made Pee-wee a star.

While on a Warner Bros. set, Reubens noticed that most of the people rode around on bicycles, and asked when he would get his. Warner Bros. presented him with a refurbished 1940s Schwinn; Reubens then abandoned the Pee-wee Herman script he was writing in favor of one about Herman's love for his bike and his efforts to locate it once it was stolen. Hartman, Reubens, and Michael Varhol co-wrote the script for Pee-wee's Big Adventure, and in 1985 the film, directed by Tim Burton and scored by Danny Elfman, was released. Reubens was the originator of the "Pee-wee dance" in the movie, and he had performed it publicly many times prior to the making of the film.

The following year (1986), Pee-wee (along with Hartman) found a home on the small screen with the Saturday-morning children's program Pee-wee's Playhouse on the American CBS network for the next five years (Shirley Stoler, Johann Carlo, Gilbert Lewis, and Roland Rodriguez only appeared on the show for the first 13 episodes before their characters were dropped from the show). In the case of Lewis, he was fired and a new actor, William Marshall, was hired to play the King of Cartoons. The show starred Pee-wee living in a wild and wacky house, known as the Playhouse, full of talking chairs, animals, robots, and other puppet and human characters. During the time Pee-wee's Playhouse aired, it garnered 22 Emmy Awards.
In 1987, he provided the voice of REX, the bumbling pilot droid in the Disneyland attraction, Star Tours, and reprised the role of Pee-wee Herman in a cameo appearances in the film Back to the Beach and TV show Sesame Street. In 1988, Reubens reprised the role of Pee-wee Herman in a sequel to Pee-wee's Big Adventure, entitled Big Top Pee-wee. Also that year, "Pee-wee" was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

On July 26, 1991, Reubens was arrested in Sarasota, Florida for masturbating publicly in an adult theater during a screening of Nurse Nancy. The news media went into a frenzy and the scandal marked the near-death of the character "Pee-wee Herman," reducing both the actor and the persona to a ubiquitous punchline. Although the series Pee-wee's Playhouse had already ended by that time, CBS reacted by dropping its reruns from their lineup. Reubens made a deal with the Sarasota County court: in exchange for a fine and producing a few PSAs, he was given a clean record.
Despite the negative publicity and backlash from CBS, many spoke out in support of Reubens. Bill Cosby defended Reubens, saying "Whatever (Reubens has) done, this is being blown all out of proportion." Reubens' fans also organized rallies of support. According to Entertainment Weekly, "several dozen vocal Pee-weeites picketed in L.A. and New York [a week later], and 250 demonstrated in San Francisco the following day." Supportive fans chanted, "All we are saying is give Pee-wee a chance!"[9][10]

Reubens was arrested again in 2002 in connection with an investigation involving child pornography. Public news stories concerning his case cast doubt upon the suggestion that Reubens intentionally acquired child pornography, as he stated that he was a collector of "erotic artwork" and that he had a sizable collection of vintage erotica with samples dating back to the 18th century. On March 19, 2004, child pornography charges against him were dropped by Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo after Reubens pleaded guilty to a separate "misdemeanor obscenity" charge.
"The DA waited 364 days (one day before the statute of limitations would have run out) and then alleged that some of it was 'child pornography' — decades-old physique poses, old art photos, and yellowed nudist magazines. Some of the nude photos were of minors — when the pictures were taken many years ago. All of the photos, Reubens maintained, were legal when they were first published. The charges were reduced to 'obscenity', and Reubens pleaded guilty and paid a US$100 fine in exchange for probation."[11] Said Reubens: <>R>“
Personally, I think we're living in a very scary time. Do we let the legal system decide in a courtroom what's obscene and what's not obscene? I didn't want to be in a situation where there was a possibility I could go to jail... I mean, that just seemed insane to me.
One thing I want to make very, very clear, I don't want anyone for one second to think that I am titillated by images of children. It's not me. You can say lots of things about me. And you might. The public may think I'm weird. They may think I'm crazy or anything that anyone wants to think about me. That's all fine. As long as one of the things you're not thinking about me is that I'm a pedophile. Because that's not true. Prior to his arrest, Reubens had made a guest appearance on the hit TV series Everybody Loves Raymond, playing the role of Amy McDougall's comic-book-obsessed brother (Russel McDougall). His arrest prompted the show's star, Ray Romano, to object to Reubens being a part of the show's cast and actor Chris Elliott was cast as the character of Peter McDougall, apparently a second brother of Amy's, to replace Reubens' role.

After 1991, Reubens drifted from public view. He made cameos in the 1992 film Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and in Batman Returns. The latter film reunited him with his Big Adventure director, Tim Burton, and co-star, Diane Salinger. He performed in another Tim Burton production, 1993's The Nightmare Before Christmas in the role of Lock. After that, he took small parts in Matilda and Dunston Checks In.
In 1995, he landed a recurring role on the hit TV series Murphy Brown as the network president's scheming nephew and Murphy's 76th secretary. The role earned him rave reviews and his first and only non-Pee-wee Emmy nomination. He appeared on the show until 1997.
In 1999, Reubens came back into the edge of the limelight as a character in the movie Mystery Men where he played "The Spleen", one of a group of wannabe superheroes. He was capable of subduing his adversaries with noxious blasts of "ass perfume". It was during the filming of this movie that Reubens appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 1999 in one of his very first interviews not as Pee-wee. It was also on that interview that Reubens first announced plans to start writing a new Pee-wee movie. The next year, Reubens appeared as a murdering cowboy named Arvid Henry in Dwight Yoakam's movie South of Heaven, West of Hell.
In November 2000, Reubens was chairman of the 30th Anniversary Alumni Reunion at his alma mater, CalArts.
In 2001, Reubens was the host of the short-lived TV show based on the game You Don't Know Jack. On this show, he portrayed a character named Troy Stevens. That same year, he received his most rave reviews for a non-Pee-wee role when he played a hairdresser/drug dealer in the Johnny Depp hit Blow. In an interview discussing the film, Reubens said of his character in the film (which was based on a real person who is still in hiding), "I wanted to make him like some kind of comic relief." 2004 saw the start of Reubens appearing in the public eye more regularly. In a 2004 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Reubens said that he was working on a few television and movie ideas, and that Hollywood, he hoped, had not seen the last of Reubens or his alter ego, Pee-wee. Reubens has also stated a strong possibility of a Pee-wee's Playhouse movie on an NPR interview with Terry Gross on December 27, 2004. A third Pee-wee movie was also suggested. Both, said Reubens, are actively being worked on, but no dates or official announcements were made as of this date.
Reubens, an avid video gamer since 1981, reprised his role as Lock in the video game The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge. Reubens did not voice Lock when he appeared in Kingdom Hearts II, however.
He also appeared in the second music video version of The Raconteurs song "Steady, As She Goes". It showed the band in a comical soapbox car race. Reubens played the bad guy who sabotages the race.
In early July 2006, Cartoon Network began running a promo during its Adult Swim lineup. The promo consisted of a black screen with the text, "Remember This?" displayed, while the beginning of the Pee-wee's Playhouse theme song played in the background. The commercial then faded to the text "Coming July 10, 2006." A later press release and many other promos confirmed that the show's 45 original episodes would air on the block Monday to Thursday at 11 P.M. ET starting on that date.[13] However, later on in August 2006, Adult Swim started airing Pee-wee's Playhouse at 12:00 A.M. ET.
On July 11, 2006, Reubens made a rare talk show appearance to promote Pee-wee's Playhouse on the Late Show with David Letterman, and made mention that a script was completed for a Pee-wee's Playhouse Movie which would take the characters from the 1980s television show out of the playhouse for the first time and into the real world. In a Time interview, Reubens said production would start early next year for the film.[14]
On July 30, 2006, Reubens played Rick of the citizen's patrol on the popular Comedy Central show Reno 911!. The character, Rick, wore a red beret with numerous pins on it, a pair of white gloves, and a small cape. Rick always found clues and evidence that the officers would have otherwise never found, usually making them look very novice. He spoke with a scratchy whisper throughout the entire episode until near the end when officer Dangle plays a voice recorder where Rick is making chicken noises and laughs like Pee-wee Herman.
On Saturday, August 5, 2007 at a showing of Pee-wee's Big Adventure in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, CA, Reubens made an appearance on stage before the show, bringing with him almost the entire cast of the film to the uproarious applause and standing ovation. E.G. Daily (Dotty), Judd Omen (Mickey), Diane Salinger (Simone), Daryl Keith Roach (Chuck the bike shop owner), and Mark Holton (Francis) were all present.
Paul announced that Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Movie has been greenlit in late summer 2006, although there is no word on what studio greenlighted the project. This film is family oriented, and is going into production around February 2007. In October 2006, Reubens made a rare public appearance at an east-coast fan convention, "Chiller Theater," with "Pee-wee's Playhouse" co-star, Lynne Marie Stewart. There he donned a gray suit with a bold red necktie, and signed autographed pictures and other memorabilia-- along with posing for photographs with fans.[15]
Reubens played a prince on the 30 Rock episode "Black Tie", which aired on February 1, 2007. Paul Reubens played a veteran journalist on the FX series "Dirt". The episodes were titled "The Secret Lives of Altar Girls" (aired Feb. 6, 2007) and "Come Together" (aired Feb. 13, 2007). On February 25th, 2007, Reubens made an appearance on the Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! as the moon in the closing segment of the episode "Cats". Reubens makes a cameo in Reno 911!: Miami as Terry's dad. Reubens appears in The Tripper with David Arquette and Courteney Cox. It was released April 20, 2007. Starting May 2, 2007, Paul Reubens reprised his role as Golly Gopher in the television series based on Re-Animated. Paul has made an appearance on The Andy Milonakis Show in season 3, as "Weird Beard the Weirdly Bearded Weirdsman." He's also done the voice for the character Paul, in the episode "Puddins" of "Tom Goes to the Mayor".[16]
Reubens appeared as the Pee-wee Herman character for the first time since 1992 at Spike TV's 2007 Guys' Choice Awards in June 2007. [17]
In early 2007 Nike SB released a style of Nike SB sneakers, Grey/Heather Dunk High Pro SB, that use a grey and white color scheme with red detail inspired by the colors of Pee-wee Herman's trademark suit and an illustration on the insole suggesting Reubens' theater arrest. No explicit reference is made to the inspiration as they are unauthorized. They are part of a "Fallen Heroes" pack which also features shoes inspired by Milli Vanilli, MC Hammer, and Vanilla Ice. [18]
As of 2008, Reubens resides in the Hollywood Hills area of Los Angeles, California. He is ready to begin work on the Movie Pee-wee's Playhouse is a proposed 2009 film by Paul Reubens, allegedly greenlighted by Paramount Pictures.[21]
Reubens' third scripted movie, written at the same time as his adult-oriented Pee-wee script, was announced in late summer 2006. He first announced he had finished the script on the Late Show with David Letterman, and later revealed further details to Time reporter Dennis Van Tine.[22] Filming was expected to start in early 2007. According to IMDb, it is expected for a release in 2009 because of delays.

Ruben had received Emmy Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Graphics and Title Design.

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