Pee Wee Herman - The showbiz sobriquet
of Paul Reubens (actually "Rubenfelds") the star of the Emmy-winning
Saturday morning live-action children's program PEE WEE'S
The show featured several characters
including a talking chair named Chairy; the Beehive-hairdoed Miss
Yvonne, and the King of Cartoons (he wore a crown) who introduced
small cartoon segments.
Paul Reubens' cult status gave him the
opportunity to star in his own movies including Pee Wee's Big
Adventure (1985) about a cross-country search for his stolen
bicycle and Big Top Pee Wee (1988) with Pee Wee cast in the
role of a farmer with a talking pig who joined a circus and fell in
love with Gina, a beautiful Italian trapeze artist.
Pee Wee Herman
first surfaced in 1979 when he introduced a number of zany
characters while playing with the Los Angeles based comedy
improvisational group, the Groundlings. His Pee Wee character was a cross between
a spoiled kid, and silly, prancing nerd. His giggly persona
consisted of a crew cut hair style, smirking cherry red lips, a size
too small 1950s style gray plaid suit, skinny red bow tie, white
socks and shoes.
Pee Wee's Playhouse Theme Song Lyrics
Come on in, and pull yourself up a chair (like
Let the fun begin, it's time to let down your hair!
Pee-wee's So excited,
'cause all his friends have been invited (that's you!)
To go wacky, at Pee-wee's Playhouse!
There's a crazy rhythm, comin' from Puppetland (what that?)
Dirty Dog, Cool Cat, and Chicky Baby are the Puppet Band (yeah!)
He's got a couple of talkin' fish, and a genie who'll grant a wish -
Golly, it's cuckoo at Pee-wee's Playhouse!
Globey's spinnin', Mr. Window's grinnin',
'cause Pterri's flyin' by
The Flowers are singin', the Picture Phone is ringin',
the Dinosaur family goes, "Hi!"
Mr. Kite's soarin', Conky's still a snorin', there's
the flashing Magic Screen,
The Cowntess is so classy, Randy's kinda sassy
- A nuttier
establishment you've never seen!
Spend the day with Pee-wee and you'll see what we mean!
Get outta bed, there'll be no more nappin'! (Wake up!)
'Cause you've landed in a place where anything can happen -
Now we've given you fair warnin'! It's gonna be that kind of mornin'
For bein' wacky! For getting nutty! Golly, it's cuckoo!
At Pee-wee's Playhouse!
-- Sung by Cindy Lauper
Pee Wee often appeared on NBC's LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID
LETTERMAN and played with kid's toys while spouting such phrases as
"La, la, la, la," "nuh-uh," "cool," "neat stuff," "I know you are
but what am I" and "Say it, don't spray it."
1988, his own star was unveiled on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. To
honor Pee Wee, the Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida named a
flaming yellow and orange Hibiscus flower after their town's most
famous son. Pee Wee's smirky face
graced the covers of Rolling Stone and Life magazines.
Tragically, in 1991, Pee Herman's career took a fatal
turn when he was arrested in an adult movie house. According to UsaToday (7/30/91) "Reubens was arrested (Mug Photo No. 6358 072691)
and released on bail on a charge of 'exposing his sexual organ'
twice as he allegedly masturbated with his left hand first at 8:25
PM and again at about 8:35 PM at an XXX rated Sarasota Fla., movie
house showing Nancy Nurse, Turn Up The Heat and Catalina Tiger
Reaction to his arrest prompted CBS to pull reruns of PEE WEE'S PLAYHOUSE and forced Disney MGM Studios to discontinued a
two-minute video in which Pee Wee Herman explained movie tracks to
backstage visitors at their entertainment complex in Lake Buena
Vista, Florida. Even Pee Wee's wax likeness was yanked from the Los
Angeles Movieland Wax Museum, melted down and recycled.
In a now
prophetic statement given to a reporter for the N.Y. Daily News
about his goals Pee Wee stated, "making a living, having good
personal hygiene and staying out of jail."
Pee Wee Herman returned
to television triumphantly on the 1991 MTV Awards program as a
forgiving audience of his peers greeted him with rousing applause.
Pee Wee jokingly asked them "Heard any good jokes lately?"
(referring to the many off-color jokes about his predicament) and
followed by saying "Ha, that's so funny I forgot to laugh."
Pee Wee did a cameo appearance as an efficient by ruthless secretary
for TV journalist Murphy Brown (Candice Bergen) on the CBS sitcom
When an eight tape boxed set of PEE WEE'S PLAYHOUSE
were sold to the general public (MGM/UA 1986-91 Vols. 1-4) longtime
children's show host Bob Keeshan (a.k.a. "Captain Kangaroo") gave
the series content a "B+" rating and said "Pee-wee is a benign
character who treats his friends with respect...and children will
relate to-and learn from-them." Reruns of Pee Wee's shows have since
returned to cable network.
TRIVIA NOTE: On a segment of SATURDAY
NIGHT LIVE called "The Dark Side with Nat X" comedian Chris Rock as
Nat X commented on a viewers inquiry of what would have happened to
Pee-wee Herman had he been black: "Not only would he have been
arrested, but they'd have given him another ten years for blocking
the screen with his big African-American penis."
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