Hey there! I wanted to share some fascinating details I‘ve uncovered about Paul Reubens and his family life behind his famous Pee-wee Herman character. I know you love fun pop culture trivia as much as I do, so I think you’ll really enjoy learning about the man behind one of comedy’s most iconic personas.
Let’s start from the beginning – who is Paul Reubens?
Paul Reubens was born Paul Rubenfeld on August 27, 1952 in Peekskill, New York. He grew up in Sarasota, Florida, and had aspirations of entertaining from a very young age. Reubens turned his parents’ driveway into a makeshift circus and charged all the neighborhood kids admission tickets.
He also created his own local TV show in elementary school, where he would make puppets and put on performances.
After high school, Reubens studied at Boston University and California Institute of the Arts. This is where he began to develop the quirky character of “Pee-wee Herman” – a giggly, bow-tied man-child with a distinctive laugh. Little did Reubens know this character would make him a pop culture icon.
So how did Pee-wee finally hit the big time in the 1980s?
Pee-wee Takes the 80s by Storm
Reubens spent years performing his Pee-wee Herman act in stage shows and making TV appearances. But in 1985, Pee-wee was propelled into the mainstream with the release of the movie Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, which grossed over $40 million.
That same year, CBS aired The Pee-wee Herman Show stage production as a special, introducing his childlike character to millions of viewers.
Pee-wee Fever hit its peak between 1986 and 1991 with:
Various TV specials and a Saturday morning cartoon series
The movie Big Top Pee-wee in 1988
The innovative Saturday morning CBS series Pee-wee’s Playhouse, which ran for 5 seasons and won 15 Emmys
|Year||Pee-wee Herman Highlights|
|1985||Pee-wee‘s Big Adventure movie released |
The Pee-wee Herman Show special airs on CBS
|1986||Pee-wee‘s Playhouse Saturday morning TV series premieres on CBS|
|1988||Big Top Pee-wee movie released|
|1990||Peak viewership of 5.5 million for Pee-wee‘s Playhouse|
|1991||Pee-wee‘s Playhouse canceled after receiving 22 Emmy nominations over 5 seasons|
At its peak, over 5 million viewers were tuning in each week to watch Pee-wee’s Playhouse and marvel at the show’s rapid-fire gags, DIY production design, and offbeat characters like Chairy, Pterri, Jambi, and Pee-wee’s nemesis Francis. Reubens’ portrayal of Pee-wee Herman cemented him as a pop culture icon for generations to come.
Controversy Leads to a Fall from Grace
However, Reubens’ career came to a sudden halt in 1991 when he was arrested in Florida for indecent exposure at an adult movie theater. This scandal caused immense backlash against Reubens and the family-friendly Pee-wee character.
CBS immediately canceled Pee-wee’s Playhouse, and the actor retreated from the public eye for several years. This controversy still impacts Reubens‘ reputation to this day.
But over time, he worked to make a comeback, bringing Pee-wee Herman back in stage shows and TV appearances throughout the late 90s and 2000s. In 2016, he even starred in Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, a new Pee-wee Herman movie produced by Netflix.
So while Pee-wee remains his defining persona, Reubens has proven himself a versatile character actor with roles in films like Blow, Batman Returns, and Mystery Men. His career has spanned over 50 years.
Now that we’ve covered Paul Reubens’ professional path to fame, let’s peek behind the curtain to learn about his private family life over the years.
Reubens’ Early Years with His Family
Reubens was born in New York, but he grew up in Sarasota, Florida after his family moved there when he was just 5 years old.
Public records and interviews reveal he has a younger brother named Luke Reubens and a sister named Abby Rubenfeld. His mother Judy was a teacher and civic leader devoted to philanthropy work, while his father Milton worked in car sales.
Reubens has shared fond memories of his childhood, remembering lively family dinners, Little League baseball, and trips to the neighborhood cinema with his father – who was an avid photographer and film buff.
In interviews over the years, Reubens regularly speaks with great affection about his father Milton, who nurtured his son’s interest in films and entertainment from a young age.
It’s clear creativity and arts appreciation was encouraged by both parents, as was a spirit of generosity and community service.
No Spouse or Children for the Comedy Icon
Now this is where Paul Reubens’ private life remains the most closely guarded. The comedian has never been married and does not have any children.
Tabloids have tried linking him romantically to everyone from actress De’Angela Wilson to Courteney Cox over the decades. But Reubens has never publicly confirmed any romantic relationships.
In a 2009 interview with The A.V. Club, Reubens explained his decision to keep this side of his life private:
“I think any of that is nobody‘s business, and I think one of the things that has kept me sane and able to do my work is that I have been able to keep my private life private.”
It seems Reubens saw other celebrities get caught up in the tabloid whirlwind and made a conscious choice to always keep his romantic life out of the spotlight. As a pretty private person myself, I really respect his decision.
Reubens Adores Being an Uncle
While he never had kids of his own, Reubens relishes being an uncle. His sister Abby and brother Luke have four children between them.
Reubens has been spotted bringing his nieces and nephews to red carpet events, always looking like the proud, doting uncle. He even reportedly designed parts of Pee-wee’s Playhouse based on memories of his aunt’s whimsically decorated home where he spent holidays as a kid.
In a 2010 interview Reubens gushed:
“My sister has two kids. Her older son is an actor, like his uncle Paul. And he loves his Uncle Paul and has seen everything Uncle Paul has done, unlike his mother and father who get bored during my projects and walk out of the room.”
It’s clear he treasures getting to share his passion for entertainment with his sister’s son and the rest of his close-knit family.
Reubens Bonds with His Siblings on ‘Celebrity Family Feud’
One of the few times we’ve seen Reubens interact openly with his family was when he appeared on a Pee-wee Herman themed episode of Celebrity Family Feud in 2015 alongside his sister Abby and brother Luke.
The tight-knit Reubenfeld siblings ended up winning the competition, proving their great teamwork and family bonds.
An emotional Reubens told host Steve Harvey:
“I’ve loved Family Feud since I was a kid. But to be able to do it with my sister and my brother who I love so much was so much fun.”
Always one to give back, Reubens donated his $25,000 winnings from the show to the LA LGBT Center. This reflects his quiet generosity and support for causes close to his heart.
Reubens Has a Personal Net Worth of $30 Million
Thanks to his prolific 50+ year career, starting all the way back in the early 1970s, Paul Reubens has amassed quite a hefty personal fortune along the way.
Most estimates put Reubens’ current net worth around $30 million.
To put his earnings into perspective:
In the late 80s, he was reportedly making $50k per episode for Pee-wee’s Playhouse – an unheard of sum at the time.
For much of the 80s and 90s, Reubens also made bank from his share of the massive Pee-wee Herman merchandising empire (everything from toys to lunchboxes).
He continues earning residuals and royalties from his decades of projects in TV, film and theater.
Though he doesn’t flaunt his wealth, Reubens does reportedly own two very nice homes – one in the Hollywood Hills, and a ranch home in his longtime hometown of Sarasota, Florida.
Considering his relatively low-key lifestyle, Reubens seems financially set for life, with plenty left over to donate generously when moved. Now that’s certainly something to shout “Yay!” about.
Reubens Values Privacy in His Personal Life
Unlike many celebs today who share intimate life details across social media, Paul Reubens has always made privacy a top priority – perhaps even more so after the 1991 scandal that rocked his career.
The comedian has been very open about this stance, once telling CBS News:
“You know, I’ve never shown my house. I’ve never showed myself out of makeup, or certainly not cooking in my own kitchen… I value my privacy probably more than the average show business person.”
While his Pee-wee character is an open book, Reubens reveals little about his family, relationships or life at home. And by all accounts, he‘s perfectly content keeping it that way.
In 2021, a rare interview with Reubens inside his home showed him declining to share any specifics about his residence or family life. As he plainly put it:
“I value my privacy.”
The Verdict: An Endearing Oddball
While much about the man behind Pee-wee remains shrouded in mystery, Paul Reubens has brought boundless creativity, humor and joy into the world through his comedy.
He’s proven you can craft an iconic character embraced by millions, while still retaining your privacy. And isn’t that an admirable balancing act?
Reubens treasured his family, supported philanthropic causes, and left us laughing with his unique brand of entertainment. That certainly adds up to a life well-lived.
So while I may never get all the insider details about Paul Reubens’ family and personal world, I’m just glad he shared his talents with all of us. The world is certainly a lot brighter thanks to his comedy!
Well, I don‘t know about you, but I‘m ready to do "The Pee-wee Dance" now! Let me know if you have any other fun pop culture mysteries you want me to dive into next. Talk soon!