Paul Reubens, the comedic actor best known for his character Pee-wee Herman, has died at 70.

The actor died after a battle with cancer that he kept secret from the public, a statement from Reubens posted posthumously on his Instagram states.

“Please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing the last six years,” Reubens wrote. “I have always felt a huge amount of love and respect from my friends, fans and supporters. I have loved you all so much and enjoyed making art for you.”

“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,” representatives of Reubens wrote in the caption. “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.”

Born August 27, 1952, Reubens got his start as an actor and improv comic with The Groundlings in Los Angeles. After being rejected from Saturday Night Live, he developed his now-iconic character, the lovably eccentric and childlike Pee-wee Herman, for a stage show that became a hit in LA.

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