Paul Reubens, Man Behind Peewee Herman and Star Tours’ Captain R3X, Dead at 70

Paul Reubens Dead
Credit: Warner Bros./Disney

In 1977, up-and-coming comic and actor Paul Reubens stood on the famous Groundlings stage in Hollywood, California, and introduced his fellow comedians to an awkward character who would never make it as a comedian. That character was Pee-wee Herman, a character created by Reubens and Saturday Night Live! alum Phil Hartman. Neither Hartman nor Reubens could have foreseen the cultural phenomenon that Pee-wee Herman would become. For more than two decades, Reubens portrayed Herman in a number of television shows and movies, including Pee-wee’s Playhouse, The Pee-wee Herman Show, and Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, which was helmed by Tim Burton.

Pee-wee's Big Adventure

Credit: Warner Bros.

Sadly, we have learned that Reubens has passed away at the age of 70 after a long, private battle with cancer. News of Reubens’ death was shared on his personal Instagram account, along with a short message from the actor to be shared with fans.

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. 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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A post shared by Pee-wee Herman (@peeweeherman)

Reubens’ message simply read:

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, family, and supporters. I have loved you all so much and enjoyed making art for you.

While Disney fans may be familiar with Pee-wee Herman, they also know Reubens in a whole different way. For decades, thousands of people heard Reubens’ every day, as he voiced Captain R-3X on the popular attraction, Star Tours. Captain R-3X (pronounced Rex) was the pilot who had to navigate his way through the galaxy with a rebel spy onboard his ship. And it was only his first day working on Star Tours!

DJ R3X Oga's Cantina DJ Rex

Credit: Disney

Captain R-3X is no longer a part of Star Tours — since the ride was updated to Star Tours: The Adventure Continues — in the mid-2010s. However, Guests can still see the beloved droid if they head over to Oga’s Cantina in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Galaxy’s Edge is located in Disneyland Park at Disneyland Resort and in Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort. At Oga’s R-3X is now DJ R-3X and responsible for all the music Guests love to hear!

Shortly after news of Reubens’ death was shared, Disney shared a heartfelt tribute to the actor.

Paul Reubens – Our Captain, our DJ, our Rex. 🤍

At the time of his death, Reubens was working on two Pee-wee Herman projects. One was a black comedy called The Pee-wee Herman Story. The second was a family-friendly movie called Pee-wee’s Playhouse: The Movie.

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

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