Paul Rubenfeld (born August 27, 1952), a.k.a. Paul Reubens, is an American actor, writer, and comedian, best known professionally for his character Pee-Wee Herman.
He was born in Peekskill, New York.
In the 1970s, Reubens made appearances at local comedy clubs and four guest spots on The Gong Show. It was around this time that he joined the L.A-based improvisational comedy team The Groundlings for 6 or 7 years, working at times with Bob Mc Clurg, John Paragon, Susan Barnes, and Phil Hartman, among others. He used the time to work on his skills in writing and improvising, became friends with Hartman, and developed the Pee-Wee Herman character with him.
Reubens auditioned for Saturday Night Live the season that Eddie Murphy started, but wasn't accepted to the cast. Instead, he started a stage show with the Herman character. While on a Warner Bros set, Reubens noticed that most of the people rode around on bicycles, and asked when he would get his. Warner Bros. presented him with a refurbished 1940s Schwinn; Reubens abandoned the Pee-Wee Herman script he was writing in favor of one about Herman's love for his bike and his efforts to locate it once it's stolen. Hartman and Reubens co-wrote the script for Pee-wee's Big Adventure and in 1985 the film was directed by Tim Burton, at the time a new director with only two short films to his name.
The following year, Pee-Wee (along with Hartman) found a home on the small screen with the saturday morning children's program Pee-wee's Playhouse. "Pee-Wee" even received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
On July 26, 1991, Reubens was arrested in Sarasota, Florida for allegedly exposing himself in an X-rated adult movie theater. The news media went into a frenzy and the scandal marked the near death of the character "Pee-Wee Herman." CBS dropped Pee-Wee's Playhouse from their lineup. Reubens made a deal with the Sarasota County court: in exchange for a fine and a few public service announcements, Reubens was given a clean record.
Reubens appeared as Pee-Wee for the 1991 MTV Music Video Awards, where he was given a standing ovation. Pee-Wee asked the audience, "Heard any good jokes lately?"
Reubens continues to appear in film and on television, with appearances in Batman Returns, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Everybody Loves Raymond, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Murphy Brown and Mystery Men. He also hosted a short-lived TV game show based on the popular computer game You Don't Know Jack.
In 2001, Reubens announced plans for bringing Pee-Wee Herman back for another film or two.
He was recently arrested (2002) in connection to an investigation involving child pornography and actor Jeffrey Jones, though these charges are pending as his case has not come to trial. Public news stories concerning his case have cast doubt upon the suggestion that Reubens intentionally acquired child pornography.