The Quick 10: 10 Facts About Pee-wee Herman

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I used to adore Pee-wee's Playhouse as a child. But when Adult Swim began showing old episodes of it on the Cartoon Network a couple of years ago, I was kind of stunned. How insane was this show?! They bounced around from random topic to random topic with all kinds of inanimate objects talking and bright colors and loud noises "“ I can see why it might drive an adult nuts. However, it's still a pretty fascinating show "“ and apparently still relevant, since Paul Reubens says Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Movie is in the works for 2009. Here's a few Pee-wee tidbits I thought you guys might appreciate.

playhouse

1. Pee-wee was largely inspired by Pinky Lee, who was the host of his eponymous children's show in the early "˜50s. He wore a distinctive plaid suit and displayed childish behavior similar to that of Pee-wee's.

sign2. Does the voice behind the theme song sound familiar to you? It should, especially if you grew up in the "˜80s: it's Cyndi Lauper. But she was credited as Ellen Shaw on the show.

3. There were plenty of up-and-coming celebrities on the show. Most of us know about Phil Hartman as Captain Carl and Laurence Fishburne as Cowboy Curtis, but there was also S. Epatha Merkerson as Mailman Reba and Natasha Lyonne as a neighborhood kid named Opal. Behind the scenes we had Sally Hershberger as the hair stylist; Rob Zombie and John Singleton as production assistants and Dweezil Zappa, Todd Rundgren, George Clinton and Danny Elfman as composers. OK, the weirdness of the show is starting to make more sense.

4. Pee-wee first showed up in the comedy group the Groundlings when Paul Reubens was a member.

It was definitely not kid material then. The Groundlings is where Reubens and Phil Hartman met, forming a writing team that would carry them through all of Pee-wee's adventures.

magic5. According to the Christmas Special, Magic Johnson and Magic Screen are cousins. I found that out at this site, which is a really entertaining read on Pee-wee's Playhouse, if you've got a few minutes.

6. Who knew Duke the dog-faced boy from Big Top Pee-wee would go on to win an Academy Award? Big Top was Benicio del Toro's first film.

7. It's no surprise that Paul Reubens was inspired to write Big Top Pee-wee "“ he grew up in Sarasota, Florida. Apparently it's where the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus liked to winter, so he had the Flying Wallendas as neighbors. Circus life probably seemed pretty normal to him.

8. Remember Dottie from Pee-wee's Big Adventure? In real life, she's E.G. Daily "“ AKA the voice of Tommy Pickles from Rugrats.

dottie9. Pee-Wee's Big Adventure was one of Tim Burton's first successes. He has said that without the financial success of that movie, he never would have gone on to make Batman.

10. Tim Burton never forgot his first collaboration with Paul Reubens "“ he has since featured Reubens in Batman Returns and as the voice of Lock in The Nightmare Before Christmas.

jambi OK, one more: Jambi the Genie and Pterri the Pterodactyl were played/voiced by the same person.

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August 27, 2008 - 10:45am
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