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Pee-wee Herman

Pee-wee Herman

June 27, 1984: Pee Wee Herman clowns around with a friend on Melrose Avenue.

Comedian Paul Reubens, better known as his wacky alter-ego, Pee-wee Herman, was on top of his career. Reubens’ persona emerged when he was a part of the Groundlings comedy troupe in 1978.  He continued on to enjoy success on stage and on screen, hosting his own “Pee-wee Herman Show,” regular guest appearances on “Late Show with David Letterman,” and had a sold-out one-man show at Carnegie Hall.

Reubens spent some time shopping for props along Melrose Avenue in character as Herman with Times reporter Patrick Goldstein.

Goldstein observed:

Waving madly every few steps and growling like Tony the Tiger, Pee Wee could have stopped traffic with his outfit alone. Its highlights included a faded Hawaiian shirt picturing scenic vistas, canary yellow boots and fluorescent pink pants decorated with snapshots of black militants.

Pee-wee Herman was larger than life, Goldstein noted, and it was difficult to separate the character from the actor.

“I think part of my appeal is that it’s so borderline that people can never tell whether Pee-wee’s for real or not,” the comedian said.

Reubens started out on the quiet side, Goldstein wrote, but the actor reinvented himself to stand out before casting directors. In doing so, Pee-wee was born.

“I just found it was easier to be Pee-wee,” Reubens said.

Following legal troubles in the early 1990s, Reubens’ career faded. But in recent years, Reubens and Pee-wee are back. Broadway’s “The Pee-wee Herman Show”, filmed for HBO, recently received an Emmy nomination.

1 Comment

  1. August 24, 2011, 9:58 am

    Now I ask you, would Pincus Leff ever have posed with a chimp? Probably.

    By: Arye

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