Actor Paul Reubens, who rose to fame in the 1980s as children’s TV star Pee-wee Herman, has died years after a cancer diagnosis. He was 70. Reubens official Facebook page said “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.”

Pee Wee’s Playhouse on CBS, and his other programs won 15 Emmys. Reubens spent much of his childhood in Sarasota, Florida and frequented the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, whose winter headquarters were in Sarasota. Reubens said the circus atmosphere sparked Reubens’ interest in entertainment, and influenced his later work. In 1986 he famously was the very first guest on The Late Show starring Joan Rivers. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Reubens had several legal entanglements with law enforcement for collections of erotica that he described included muscle magazines, and a sizable collection of mostly homosexual vintage erotica.

Reubens’ rise to fame was halted in July 1991 after He was arrested by an undercover Police Officer for masturbation at an adult movie theater in Sarasota. It made worldwide headlines. And jokes. But while Pee Wee Herman was a major star for children, he had cult status among college students and 20-somethings. That was proved on September 5, 1991 when he made his first public appearance after his arrest to secretly open the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards.