"Please accept my apology for not going public with what I've been facing the last six years," the actor said in a posthumous statement to fans.
Paul Reubens, the actor best known as Pee Wee Herman, has died at the age of 70.
The sad news comes from a statement to his own Instagram page reading, "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."
"Paul bravely and privately fought cancer for years with his trademark tenacity and wit," the statement 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."
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Reubens also released a posthumous statement on the post, writing, "Please accept my apology for not going public with what I've been facing the last six years."
"I have always felt a huge amount of love and respect from my friends, fans and supporters. I have loved you all so much and enjoyed making art for you," he concluded.
The late actor got his start in the '70s doing improv with The Groundlings, before breaking out big with his Pee-wee alter-ego, starring in Tim Burton's Pee-wee's Big Adventure film, it's 1988 Big Top Pee-wee sequel and his children's morning show Pee-wee's Playhouse. More recently, he brought the character back for the 2016 Netflix film Pee-wee's Big Holiday.
He also starred in films including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mystery Men and Blow.
"This is devastating news," Judd Apatow, who produced Big Holiday, commented on the death announcement. "We got to spend many years working with Paul on Pee Wee's Big Holiday and got to see his genius and kindness up close. He made the world so happy! Some of the biggest laughs I have every experienced was watching him perform live. He is irreplaceable. ❤️"
"Paul was great. Really gonna miss him," commented Norman Reedus, before sharing a post of his own to add, "Paul really gonna miss u First person to send me Xmas card bday card valentines card new yrs card every single year thank u for all the laughs my friend ❤️"
Model Karen Elson added, "Oh Paul. My heart breaks. Thank you for the joy, the laughs and making me smile on my birthday with your sweet messages without fail every year" -- while The Office alum Kate Flannery wrote, "He will live in our hearts forever! ❤️❤️❤️ #RIPPEEWEEHERMAN"
"Oh my. What a loss. RIP Paul. Keep the angels laughing," wrote Clint Howard, while D'Arcy Carden left a string of heart emojis. "We love you forever, Mr. Reubens," commented Will Sasso, before the Black Keys shared, "💔💔"
"😭💔," wrote Michelle Branch, while The Walking Dead's Pollyanna McIntosh commented, "Gone too soon. A huge thank you for sharing your wildness and kindness with us. Sympathies and peace to his friends and family ❤️🙌"
See more tributes below:
Paul Reubens was like no one else - a brilliant and original comedian who made kids and their parents laugh at the same time. He never forgot a birthday and shared his genuine delight for silliness with everyone he met. My family and I will miss him.
This is devastating. Truly heartbreaking. Paul was such a comedy genius. From his Letterman appearances to his TV shows and movies, he was so original and hilarious. And such a sweet man too. This is a huge loss for comedy. Thanks for all the laughs, Paul. https://t.co/l76VIXHl50