PEE-WEE HERMAN Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Paul Reubens                                                                       
Birth name: Paul Rubenfeld                                                               
Born: 27 August 1952 Peekskill, New York, U.S.                                           
Paul Reubens (born August 27, 1952) is an American actor, writer, and comedian,           
known professionally for his character Pee-wee Herman. As Pee-wee, Reubens               
starred in the television series Pee-wee's Playhouse from 1986 until 1990. He             
also starred in an HBO special called The Pee-wee Herman Show, the 1985 movie             
Pee-wee's Big Adventure and the 1988 movie Big Top Pee-wee. He has since gone on         
to take roles in other films, music videos, video games, and also, to make brief         
appearances on assorted talk shows.                                                       
Reubens was born as Paul Rubenfeld 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             
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.             
During winters, The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and 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, where 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. Saying that Pee-wee         
Herman was born that night, his distinctive guttural "Ha Ha," followed by a high-pitched 
"Heh 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 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.           
The inspiration for the name came from a Pee-wee brand miniature harmonica and           
the surname of an energetic boy Reubens knew from his youth. Paul 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.                 
Reubens has a sister, Abby Rubenfeld, a prominent Tennessee attorney and                 
adjunct professor at Vanderbilt Law School, who is the former chair of the               
Individual Rights and Responsibilities section of the American Bar Association           
and of the NLGLA.