The late actor’s rep confirmed his death in a statement shared with PEOPLE on Monday
Paul Reubens, best known for playing Pee-wee Herman, has died at age 70.
Reubens’ rep confirmed his death in a statement to PEOPLE on Monday, revealing that the actor had cancer for years before he died.
“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,” read the statement.
“Paul bravely and privately fought cancer for years with his trademark tenacity and wit,” it continued. “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.”
Related: Paying Tribute to the Celebrities Who Have Died in 2023
The news was also confirmed on Reubens’s official Instagram page.
Reubens created his iconic Pee-wee Herman character when he was a member of The Groundlings, which is a well-known Los Angeles improv group that has produced stars like Kristin Wiig, Lisa Kudrow, Maya Rudolph and Kathy Griffin. The Pee-wee Herman Show premiered at The Groundlings Theatre in 1981 and later moved to The Roxy on Sunset Strip before it landed an HBO broadcast, ultimately introducing the beloved character to a national audience.
Amid Reubens’s continued success with the character, he brought Pee-wee Herman to the big screen in 1985’s Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, directed by Tim Burton. He later created Pee-wee’s Playhouse for CBS, which ran from 1986 to 1990 for five seasons.
Pee-wee’s Playhouse earned 22 Emmy Awards during its run, with Reubens, personally, being nominated for an impressive 14 Emmy Awards. He ultimately won the honor twice.
Reubens brought the Pee-wee character back to the big screen in 1988’s Big Top Pee-wee, and later in 2015’s Judd Apatow-produced Netflix film Pee-wee’s Big Holiday. An updated revival of The Pee-wee Herman Show also made its way to Broadway in the early 2010s.
Of playing the iconic character, Reubens once admitted he “had no idea” the role would have such longevity throughout his career.
“If anyone would have told me I’d be doing this 30 years later, I would have laughed,” he told Collider in 2015. “But now, I plan on doing it 30 years from now, when I’m 140.”
Outside of his work as Pee-wee Herman, he helmed several other prominent roles across film and television, making appearance in Gotham, What We Do In The Shadows, 30 Rock and The Blues Brothers.
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE’s free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
A rep for Reubens, who received a star on Hollywood’s Walk Of Fame in 1988, confirmed that he recently penned the first draft of his upcoming memoir. He had also put the finishing touches on two more Pee-wee movie scripts and was developing projects for television, including a variety show and a western called Fancypants.
For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on People.