The Quick 10: People Who Got Their Starts on Pee-Wee's Playhouse

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Of course all actors and actresses had to start somewhere, but a rather astounding number of Hollywood players seem to have chosen a certain Paul Reubens cult television show for their debut. Here are 10 of them.

1. Phil Hartman. No doubt you remember Hartman as Captain Carl, but he also wrote for the show. He and Paul Reubens were in the comedy troupe The Groundlings together when Reubens started performing as Pee-Wee.

2. Rob Zombie. He served as a production assistant on set when he first moved to L.A.

3. Laurence Fishburne. Maybe it's not quite fair to say that Fishburne got his start as Cowboy Curtis "“ he was actually a child actor who had parts in The Mod Squad, One Live to Live and Apocalypse Now. At the young age of 25, though, he was still just a fledgling actor.

4. S. Epatha Merkerson.

Long before she was stamping out crime as Lt. Van Buren on Law & Order, S. Epatha was canceling stamps on Pee-Wee's Playhouse. Her television debut was as Reba the Mail Lady. She was unfamiliar with the Pee-Wee character when she auditioned, so when she showed up for her big moment on set she had no idea what she was in for. She giggled so much the director got angry at her until she finally focused on a plate Pee-Wee was holding in the scene, refusing to make eye contact with Paul Reubens. "He still, to this day, knows how to make me laugh like no one else," she told NPR.

5. John Singleton. Along with Rob Zombie, Singleton was also a production assistant. Some sources list him as a set security guard.

6. Natasha Lyonne. The American Pie actress played a much more innocent role on Pee-Wee's Playhouse - Opal, one of three kids who made up "The Playhouse Gang" on the first season.

7. Jimmy Smits. He made a brief appearance as a Conky the Magic Screen repairman. As with Laurence Fishburne, Pee-Wee wasn't necessarily his television debut, but he certainly hadn't hit it big with L.A. Law yet.
8. Sandra Bernhard appeared as Rhonda the picture phone operator.

9. Sally Hershberger. The now-famous hairstylist landed one of her first gigs as the stylist on Pee-Wee's Playhouse"¦ so now you know who was responsible for Miss Yvonne's insane "˜do.

10. Dweezil Zappa. One of his first forays into the professional music field was writing the music for the Pee-Wee episode "Reba Eats and Pterri Runs."

I'll leave you with the Pee-Wee theme song "“ it was sung by Cyndi Lauper, although she was credited as Ellen Shaw. Have a great weekend!

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August 27, 2010 - 12:46pm
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