Do you remember the character Paul Reubens invented – Pee-wee Herman? The nerdy man-boy character seemed to enchant young and old alike. He is one of the few fictional characters (along with Kermit the Frog, Mickey Mouse, and The Simpsons) to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The Pee-wee character started over 25 years ago as part of Reubens’ stand up comedian act. He had to tone the character down a bit for the HBO special “The Pee-wee Herman Show” in 1981. That special being a success, Reubens was invited to appear on “Late Night with David Letterman” and that led to another HBO special. He finally ended up on the big screen with Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and Big Top Pee-wee. In 1986, Reubens was given a Saturday morning children’s show called “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.” It ran for five years and garnered 22 Emmy awards. In 2006, Cartoon Nework’s Adult Swim began airing reruns of “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.”
But, 15 years ago, Pee-wee Herman disappeared. While in Sarasota, Florida in 1991, Reubens was arrested for indecent exposure and the scandal almost killed the character. I wonder sometimes if maybe Reubens did it on purpose to try to kill the character as he had pretty much become synonymous with Pee-wee. Reubens, the actor, appeared in several television shows such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Murphy Brown,” “Everyone Loves Raymond,” “30 Rock,” “Reno 911!,” and “Dirt.” He has also been in the movies Dunston Checks In, Matilda, Mystery Men, Dr. Dolittle, and Blow with one of my favorite actors, Johnny Depp. But Pee-wee was rarely seen or heard from.
This month, Reubens resurfaced in a surprise appearance as Pee-wee at the Spike TV 2007 Guys Choice Awards. It appears he has made peace with the character and has decided to bring him out of hiding. At age 54, he says he feels like he is on his third or fourth comeback. He has said he didn’t do everything he wanted to do with the Pee-wee character and is working on two screenplays centered around the character.
So if you love Pee-wee Herman, get read to see him on the big screen again. Reubens has said one movie will focus on Pee-wee and his playhouse friends on a road trip while the other will be a bit darker, showing Pee-wee dealing with Hollywood and fame.
Personally, I am glad to see both Paul Reubens and Pee-wee Herman coming back. What do you think? Have you missed Pee-wee?