Paul Reubens Cause of Death Revealed and Confirmed: How did Paul Reubens Die?

Who was Paul Reubens?

Paul Reubens was an American actor and comedian born on August 27, 1952, and he passed away on July 30, 2023. He was widely recognized for creating and portraying the iconic character Pee-wee Herman. Reubens began his career in the entertainment industry by joining the Los Angeles-based improvisational comedy troupe known as the Groundlings during the 1970s.

It was within this creative environment that he developed the character of Pee-wee Herman. After an unsuccessful audition for the television show “Saturday Night Live,” Reubens decided to take Pee-wee to the stage, debuting “The Pee-wee Herman Show” in 1981. Pee-wee Herman quickly became a cultural sensation, gaining a dedicated following and becoming a cult figure.

For the next decade, Reubens fully immersed himself in the character, making all of his public appearances and interviews as Pee-wee. One of his notable achievements during this time was producing and writing the feature film “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” in 1985, directed by Tim Burton. The film received both financial and critical acclaim, further solidifying Pee-wee Herman’s popularity.

Following the success of the first film, Reubens also starred in its sequel, “Big Top Pee-wee,” in 1988, although it was not as successful as the original. From 1986 to 1990, he took on the role of Pee-wee in the CBS Saturday-morning children’s program titled “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.”

Throughout his career, Paul Reubens made a significant impact on comedy and popular culture, and his portrayal of Pee-wee Herman remains a beloved and iconic part of American entertainment history.



Full Name

Paul Reubens

Birth Name

Paul Rubenfeld

Date of Birth

August 27, 1952

Place of Birth

Peekskill, New York, U.S.

Date of Death

July 30, 2023

Place of Death

Los Angeles, California, U.S.

Age at Death



Judy  and Milton Rubenfeld


Luke and Abby

Paul Reubens Cause of Death Revealed and Confirmed

Paul Reubens, best known for his iconic character Pee-wee Herman, passed away on July 30 at the age of 70. A month after his death, his cause of death has been revealed and confirmed through his death certificate. According to the certificate, Reubens died as a result of acute hypoxic respiratory failure.

Acute hypoxic respiratory failure is a condition that occurs when the lungs cannot release enough oxygen into the blood, preventing the organs from functioning properly. It can also occur if the lungs fail to remove carbon dioxide from the blood. This condition can be life-threatening as it impairs the essential exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body.

In addition to acute hypoxic respiratory failure, it was revealed that Reubens was battling two types of cancer at the time of his death. His primary cancer battle was with acute myelogenous leukemia, a cancer that affects blood cells and bone marrow. Acute myelogenous leukemia is a serious and often aggressive form of cancer. Reubens was also fighting metastatic lung cancer, which had spread either to the other lung or to other parts of his body.

Paul Reubens had chosen to keep his cancer diagnosis private for years, and his representative shared at the time of his passing that he had bravely and privately fought cancer with determination and humor. Despite his health challenges, Reubens remained a beloved figure in the world of comedy, and his work as Pee-wee Herman will always be cherished by fans.


Paul Reubens Parents and Siblings

Paul Reubens, originally named Paul Rubenfeld, was born on August 27, 1952, in Peekskill, New York. He grew up in a Jewish family in Sarasota, Florida, where his parents, Judy (Rosen) and Milton Rubenfeld, played significant roles in his upbringing.

Paul Reubens’ mother, Judy, worked as a teacher. Her profession likely contributed to his early exposure to education and creativity. Although not in the entertainment industry herself, she supported her son’s career and artistic endeavors.

Paul’s father, Milton Rubenfeld, had a remarkable and adventurous history. He served as a pilot for both Britain’s Royal Air Force and the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. Later, he became one of the founding pilots of the Israeli Air Force during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. He was one of five Jewish pilots who flew smuggled fighter planes against Arab forces. Milton Rubenfeld’s dedication and service to both the United States and Israel in the military are notable aspects of his life.

Paul Reubens has two siblings, Luke Rubenfeld (Born 1958) and Abby Rubenfeld (Born 1953) Luke pursued a career as a dog trainer. While not as publicly visible as his brother Paul, Luke’s profession demonstrates his passion and expertise in working with animals.

Abby is an attorney and, notably, a board member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Tennessee. Her involvement with the ACLU indicates a commitment to civil rights and social justice causes. Paul Reubens’ family background, with its mix of diverse professions and notable military service, provides a unique context for understanding the upbringing and influences that contributed to his career and life as an entertainer.

Paul Reubens Early Life and Education

Paul Reubens’ early life and education played a crucial role in shaping his eventual career in entertainment. Reubens spent a significant part of his childhood in Oneonta, New York. During this time, he had the opportunity to frequent the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which had its winter headquarters in Sarasota, Florida, where his family lived.

The vibrant circus atmosphere had a profound impact on Reubens and sparked his interest in entertainment. This early exposure to the world of performance and spectacle would later influence his iconic character, Pee-wee Herman. Reubens was a fan of the classic television show “I Love Lucy.” His love for the show and its ability to make people laugh inspired his desire to bring laughter to others through his own work.

At the tender age of five, Reubens asked his father to build him a stage, where he and his siblings would act out plays. This early interest in performing and creating shows hinted at his future career in comedy and acting. During his high school years at Sarasota High School, Reubens became deeply involved in the performing arts. He was named the president of the National Thespian Society, showcasing his passion for theater and drama.

He also took part in Northwestern University’s summer program for gifted high-school students and joined the local Asolo Theater and Players of Sarasota Theater, gaining valuable experience in acting and stagecraft. After graduating from high school, Reubens initially attended Plymouth State University for a semester before transferring to Boston University. During this period, he began auditioning for acting schools to further hone his craft.

Reubens faced rejection from several prestigious acting schools, including the Juilliard School and Carnegie Mellon University. However, his persistence paid off when he was finally accepted into the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). This acceptance led Reubens to make the pivotal move to California, where he not only pursued his acting education but also worked in restaurant kitchens and as a Fuller Brush salesman, demonstrating his determination and commitment to his artistic aspirations.

Paul Reubens’ early life experiences, including his exposure to the circus, love for comedy, and dedication to theater, laid the foundation for his future success as a comedian and actor, eventually culminating in the creation of the beloved Pee-wee Herman character

Paul Reubens Career

Here is a career journey of Paul Reubens:-

Early Career and Pee-wee’s Creation

  • After studying drama at the California Institute of the Arts, Paul Reubens began performing with the comedy troupe The Groundlings.
  • During his time with The Groundlings, Reubens developed the character of Pee-wee Herman, an innocent man-boy who played tricks on his friends.

Transition to Film and TV

  • Reubens made early film appearances in movies like ‘Pray TV’ (1980), ‘Dream On!’ (1981), and ‘Meatballs Part II’ (1984).
  • In 1981, a TV special titled ‘The Pee-wee Herman Show’ aired on HBO, bringing Reubens and his character to mainstream popularity.
  • Reubens served as a writer and played the lead role in ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure’ (1985), the first feature film based on the Pee-wee character.

Continued Work in Film and Television

  • In 1988, Reubens reprised his role in the sequel ‘Big Top Pee-Wee,’ directed by Randal Kleiser, though the film was a commercial and critical failure.
  • From 1986 to 1990, Reubens starred in and created the children’s show ‘Pee-wee’s Playhouse,’ which gained immense popularity and a cult following.
  • In 1992, Reubens played the role of the father of the super-villain ‘Penguin’ in the superhero film ‘Batman Returns.’
  • The same year, he played an important role in the comedy horror film ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ which was commercially successful.

Television and Emmy Recognition

  • From 1995 to 1997, Reubens had a guest role in the sitcom ‘Murphy Brown,’ earning an Emmy nomination.
  • In 1998, he starred in the TV special ‘Pee-wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special.’
  • Reubens appeared in various films like ‘Blow’ (2001), ‘Reno 911!: Miami’ (2007), ‘The Smurfs’ (2011), and ‘The Smurfs 2’ (2013). In 2011, he starred in the TV special ‘The Pee-wee Herman Show,’ earning another Emmy Award nomination.
  • From 2012 to 2013, he voiced a supporting character in the animated sci-fi TV series ‘Tron: Uprising.’

Return to Pee-wee and Netflix Film

  • In 2016, Reubens co-produced, co-wrote, and played the lead role in ‘Pee-wee’s Big Holiday,’ the third feature film based on his Pee-wee character. The film was positively received and was released on Netflix.

Paul Reubens’ career is marked by his enduring portrayal of Pee-wee Herman, which spanned various forms of entertainment, from stage shows to television series and feature films. His contributions to comedy and his ability to bring laughter to audiences have solidified his place in entertainment history.

Paul Reubens Marital Life

Paul Reubens, widely known for his portrayal of Pee-wee Herman, led a private personal life, and he was never officially married in the eyes of the law. Paul Reubens’ first known relationship was with Chandi Heffner, born on August 26, 1953. Chandi was the daughter of tobacco heiress Doris Duke and the sister of Claudia Heffner, who later married Nelson Peltz and became parents to Nicola Peltz.

Chandi entered the public eye in 1988 when she was adopted by billionaire art collector Doris Duke in Hawaii at the age of 32. Reports suggest that Chandi was a Hare Krishna devotee who met Doris in 1985, and Doris believed Chandi to be the reincarnation of her late daughter, Arden.

Paul Reubens and Chandi Heffner met in Hawaii through actor Jim Nabors and exchanged vows in an “impromptu mock wedding ceremony” in 1989 at Doris Duke’s estate, Shangri La.

Following his relationship with Chandi Heffner, Paul Reubens dated actress Debi Mazar, known for her role in “LA Law.” Their relationship lasted for six years until 1999. In a 2010 interview, Reubens spoke about the powerful impact of his relationship with Debi Mazar. He described falling in love with her and credited her with helping him overcome difficult periods in his life.

Reubens mentioned that meeting Debi Mazar pulled him out of a dark period and that she played a crucial role in his emotional recovery. While Paul Reubens never married in a legal sense, his relationships with Chandi Heffner and Debi Mazar played significant roles in his personal life. His romantic involvement with Debi Mazar, in particular, helped him navigate challenging times and find emotional support and positivity.

Paul Reubens Achievements

Paul Reubens, known for his portrayal of Pee-wee Herman, has accumulated several notable achievements and nominations throughout his career. Here is a summary of his achievements in various awards and recognitions:

Primetime Emmy Awards

  • In 2011, he received a Primetime Emmy nomination in the category of Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Special for “The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway.”

  • In 1995, he was nominated for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his role in “Murphy Brown,” specifically for the episode titled “The Good Nephew,” where he played “Andrew J. Lansing III.”

Behind the Voice Actors Awards

  • In 2016, he earned a nomination for Best Male Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role for his work in “Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero,” voicing “The Milkman.” He also won the BTVA People’s Choice Voice Acting Award in the same category.


  • In 2011, he received a NAVGTR Award for Supporting Performance in a Comedy for his role in “Batman: The Brave and the Bold.”

Gotham Awards

  • In 2010, he was nominated for a Gotham Independent Film Award in the category of Best Ensemble Performance for his work in the film “Life During Wartime.”

Online Film & Television Association (OFTA) Awards

  • In 2008, he won an OFTA Television Award for Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his appearance in “Pushing Daisies.”

Gold Derby Awards

  • In 2007, he was nominated for a Gold Derby TV Award in the category of Comedy Guest Actor for his role in “30 Rock.”

Viewers for Quality Television Awards

  • In 1996, he received a Q Award nomination for Best Recurring Player for his work in “Murphy Brown.”

Daytime Emmy Awards

  • In 1991, he won a Daytime Emmy in the category of Outstanding Graphics and Title Design for “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.”

  • In 1990, he received nominations in several categories, including Outstanding Performer in a Children’s Series, Outstanding Directing in a Children’s Series, and Outstanding Children’s Series, all for “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.”

  • In 1988, he won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction/Set Direction/Scenic Design for “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.”

  • He received additional Daytime Emmy nominations in various categories between 1987 and 1991 for his work in “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.”

Kids’ Choice Awards, USA

  • In 1989, he was nominated for a Kids’ Choice Award for Favorite Movie Actor for his role as Pee-Wee Herman in “Big Top Pee-wee.”

Walk of Fame

  • In 1988, Paul Reubens was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to motion pictures.

These achievements reflect Paul Reubens’ diverse talents and contributions to the entertainment industry, from his iconic character Pee-wee Herman to his voice acting roles and appearances in various television series and films.

Paul Reubens Net Worth

Paul Reubens, best known for his portrayal of Pee-wee Herman and his contributions to the entertainment industry, has generated income through various sources over the course of his career. Reubens has earned income as an actor in both television and film. His portrayal of Pee-wee Herman in various television shows, including “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” and films like “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” and “Big Top Pee-wee,” contributed significantly to his earnings.

He has lent his voice to various animated characters in television series and films. His voice acting roles in projects like “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” and “Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero” have provided additional income. Reubens has performed as a comedian, including stand-up comedy and stage shows. His live performances, especially as Pee-wee Herman, have been a source of income.

He has been involved in writing for television and film projects, particularly for the Pee-wee Herman character. His work as a writer for “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” and the Pee-wee films contributed to his income. Reubens has served as a producer for some of his projects, such as “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” and “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” which allowed him to earn from the production side of the entertainment industry.

Paul Reubens Net Worth


Paul Reubens

Net Worth

$5 Million


actor and comedian

How did Paul Reubens Die?

Paul Reubens, best known as Pee-wee Herman, passed away at 70 due to acute hypoxic respiratory failure. Alongside this condition, he was privately battling acute myelogenous leukemia, affecting blood cells and bone marrow, and metastatic lung cancer, which spreads to other organs. His cancer battle remained undisclosed until his death on July 30, 2023, leaving fans mourning the loss of the beloved actor and comedian.

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