The comedic legend had secretly been battling cancer, it was revealed on Monday.
"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," read a statement on Reubens' official Instagram account, shared on Monday.
"Paul bravely and privately fought cancer for years with his trademark tenacity and wit," the statement continued. "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."
The Instagram post also included a posthumous statement from Reubens, himself.
"Please accept my apology for not going public with what I've been facing the last six years," Reubens' comment read. "I have always felt a huge amount of love and respect from friends, fans and supporters. I have loved you all so much and enjoyed making art for you."
Jimmy Kimmel was among the first to pay tribute to Reubens on social media, offering a heartfelt remembrance.
"Paul Reubens was like no one else - a brilliant and original comedian who made kids and their parents laugh at the same time. He never forgot a birthday and shared his genuine delight for silliness with everyone he met. My family and I will miss him," he tweeted.
The Groundlings comedy theater in Los Angeles, where Reubens created the Pee-wee Herman character, also put out a statement to ET, saying, "We were deeply saddened to hear of Paul Reubens passing today. As an iconic member of The Groundlings in the 1970-80s, Paul created his infamous character of Peewee Herman here, which became a cultural phenomenon that spanned decades. Paul's contributions to comedy and entertainment have left a lasting impact on the world, and he will be greatly missed by all in the Groundlings community. We love you, Paul."
Dane Cook shared, "Paul Reubens was a gifted performer and a nice person. He brought so much joy to people over the years as Pee Wee, my sister and I loved that character. I was privileged to work with him in a film and he was as great in real life as he was on screen. Tough news here."
Taking to the comments on Reubens' official post, Judd Apatow wrote: "This is devastating news. We got to spend many years working with Paul on Pee Wee's Big Holiday and got to see his genius and kindness up close. He made the world so happy! Some of the biggest laughs I have every experienced was watching him perform live. He is irreplaceable. ❤️"
Norman Reedus commented, "Paul was great. Really gonna miss him."
Will Sasso added, "We love you forever, Mr. Reubens. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️"
Sandra Bernhard, who co-starred in Pee-wee's Big Adventure, shared a thoughtful tribute on Instagram, writing, "The brilliant subversive children’s show created by @peeweeherman broke all the rules he called me a couple of years ago & it surprised me we spoke for quite awhile. There was a lot on his plate back in the day, all that success, high expectations, tremendous fame, I think it does a number on a person. It’s hard to distill, & it all goes by so very fast."
Questlove issued a lengthy, touching tribute on Instagram, calling Reubens "one in a million."
"Man. Of my 80s teen years, I've prolly seen maybe 2 other films slightly more than I seen #PeeWeesBigAdventure ——I mean on #ThatSite I've used '…& knitting & knitting….' umpteenth times to emphasize a never ending story," he wrote. "I mean man. This dude was one of the most beautiful coolest dudes EVER man. There is a certain amount of us that thought we were in an exclusive club because this mofo would never let Christmas or a birthday go by without acknowledging it. And his music tales and concerts he went to all those stories. Even our (@qls) friendship with #AleeWillis got sparked off with him when it was Paul who told me who authored the lyrics to Earth Wind & Fire's 'September'——-he told me how influential her personal design taste helped inform the house design of Pee Wee's Playhouse (we visited before she passed and it’s pop culture heaven)."
"Paul was one in a million. Always made you feel like no matter what you did it was important (he gave NOTES on the Elvis Costello lp lol!!!)——this dude was one of the kindest amazing humans ever," he continued. "I’m really sad about this. I'm also expecting to hear kind blowing stories of his generosity & his humor from all of his friends. Thank you Paul (@PeeWeeHerman) some of my best jokes were authored by you when I was a kid."
Justin Theroux shared the news in his Instagram Story, adding a heartbreak emoji with the caption: "What a wonderful and hilarious talent, actor and man."
See more tributes below: