Los Angeles’ Groundlings remember one of their own, Paul Reubens: ‘A lasting impact’

A smiling Paul Reubens, wearing a gray suit and red bowtie, sits in a red chair.
Actor Paul Reubens created his Pee-wee Herman character when he was performing with the Groundlings.
(Danny Moloshok / Associated Press)

Los Angeles comedy and theater troupe the Groundlings bid farewell to one of their own this week after Paul Reubens, the actor who portrayed Pee-wee Herman, died at age 70.

In a statement shared on the Groundlings website, the performance company said it was “deeply saddened” to learn that Reubens had died after a long, private battle with cancer.

“As an iconic member of The Groundlings in the 1970-80s, Paul created his infamous character of Peewee Herman here, which became a cultural phenomenon that spanned decades,” the statement read.


“Paul’s contributions to comedy and entertainment have left a lasting impact on the world, and he will be greatly missed by all in the Groundlings community. We love you, Paul.”

Paul Reubens, the actor best known for portraying the character Pee-wee Herman before arrests temporarily derailed his career, has died. He was 70.

July 31, 2023

The Groundlings were among many who paid tribute to Reubens, who entertained a generation of children with his show “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” and “Pee-wee” movies. He also appeared in other film and TV projects, such as “Sesame Street,” “30 Rock,” “Gotham,” “Flight of the Navigator,” “What We Do in the Shadows” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

“Paul Reubens was like no one else — a brilliant and original comedian who made kids and their parents laugh at the same time,” tweeted Jimmy Kimmel. “He never forgot a birthday and shared his genuine delight for silliness with everyone he met. My family and I will miss him.”

“No tweet can capture the magic, generosity, artistry, and devout silliness of Paul Reubens,” tweeted Conan O’Brien. “Everyone I know received countless nonsensical memes from Paul on their birthday, and I mean EVERYONE. His surreal comedy and unrelenting kindness were a gift to us all. Damn, this hurts.”

As he told The Times in 2014, he was ‘corny’ enough to appreciate the ‘unique place’ held for children of all ages who came to love Pee-wee Herman.

July 31, 2023

Others in the comedy community — including “Seinfeld” alum Jason Alexander, “Frozen” actor Josh Gad and “Poker Face” star Natasha Lyonne — also tweeted their appreciation for Reubens.

“Paul Reubens was one of the most unique and uniquely gifted people I have known. My times in his company were a delight,” Alexander wrote. “Stories, ideas, opinions, life experience - so much to share. He brought joy. Your talents were many&wonderful. And Pee Wee was a delight.”


Along with Reubens, Gad grieved the loss of “a giant piece” of his childhood.

Angus Cloud, who portrayed drug dealer Fez in HBO’s ‘Euphoria,’ has died. He was 25.

July 31, 2023

Lyonne, who got her start on “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” as a child, credited Reubens with helping launch her career.

“Love you so much, Paul,” she tweeted. “One in all time. Thank you for ... your forever friendship all these years & for teaching us what a true original is.”

Reubens was also mourned by other actors, musicians, filmmakers and TV institutions — such as the Muppets, which said in a statement that Reubens “brought a burst of joy, creativity, and laughter everywhere he went.”

Groundlings’ member Leonard Robinson looks back on a tumultuous year that finds him directing the company’s first try at livestreamed sketch comedy.

Dec. 22, 2020

“This is devastating,” tweeted director Paul Feig. “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.”

“Devastated to learn of the passing of my friend Paul Reubens,” tweeted “The Princess Bride” actor Cary Elwes. “He was a incredibly humorous, kind & generous soul who was modest about his remarkable talent. I will cherish our friendship forever. We send our deepest condolences to his family, friends.”


“We loved you right back, Paul... & can’t thank you enough for the lifetime of laughter!” tweeted “Star Wars” actor Mark Hamill.

“Paul Reubens was my friend for almost 3 decades,” tweeted “Hairspray” actor Ricki Lake. “I am in disbelief that he is gone. Beyond grateful for all the memories and the countless laughs.”

“One of the first days filming Matilda, a man who looked very familiar turned to me, completely deadpan, and said ‘Did you hear the one about the bed,’” tweeted former child actor Mara Wilson. “I said no. He said, ‘It’s not made up yet.’ It still makes me smile.”

“We are heartsick the world has lost Paul Reubens,” tweeted ’80s rock band the Go-Go’s. “He was a truly good person.”