Pee-wee Herman’s body was riddled with cancer when he died from acute hypoxic respiratory failure, according to a report from Rolling Stone Magazine.
The primary cancer, listed as a sequential underlying cause, was acute myelogenous leukemia, according to his death certificate that was obtained by People magazine. He also had metastatic lung cancer, the report noted.
The comedian privately fought cancer for six years before his July 30 death at age 70, the report noted.
“Please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing the last six years,” wrote the comedian in a statement prepared for posthumous release.
“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.”
Though Pee-wee initially gained fame as an entertainer of children, his character’s appeal expanded to a larger audience and he influenced a generation of comedians and performers, according to the report.
“Love you so much, Paul,” said Natasha Lyonne in a July 31 X post. “One in all time. Thank you for my career & your forever friendship all these years & for teaching us what a true original is.”
Lyonne made her made her TV acting debut on “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” when she was six.
“He was a nut and I just love that about him,” musician Cyndi Lauper wrote on Instagram. “We had the same some sort of sensibility. I know he went through some ups and downs, but he was a really good guy and I am sorry to hear of his passing and that he had gotten so sick. Hopefully he’s cracking jokes and shooting a few rounds on the big miniature golf course in the sky.”
Lauper recorded the vocals for Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh, the theme song for “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.”
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