In the years before his death at age 70, Paul Reubens had several projects in the works. The Pee-wee Herman actor completed the first draft of his memoir and was putting “finishing touches” on two Pee-wee Herman movie scripts, his team exclusively told Closer

In addition to revisiting the franchise that made him famous, Reubens also drew his focus to working on television projects. The late comedian had plans for a new variety show and a western called Fancypants

Reubens’ death was announced on Monday, July 31, following a private battle with cancer. 

“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,” reps for the star shared in a statement to Closer. “Paul bravely and privately fought cancer for years with his trademark tenacity and wit. 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.”

Prior to his passing, Reubens penned a statement explaining why he decided to keep his cancer diagnosis and condition a secret. 

“Please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing the last six years,” the statement read. “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.”

Tributes poured in from Reubens’ former costars, Hollywood friends and fans. Many left flowers and other sentimental items around his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

“Paul Reubens was like no one else — a brilliant and original comedian who made kids and their parents laugh at the same time,” Jimmy Kimmel penned in a heartfelt post on Instagram. “He never forgot a birthday and shared his genuine delight for silliness with everyone he met. My family and I will miss him.”

Pee-wee Herman Actor Death: Paul Reubens Dies at Age 70
Photo Courtesy of Art Streiber / August

Natasha Lyonne, who appeared as a child on Reubens’ Pee-wee’s Playhouse, also paid her respects to the late star.

“Love you so much, Paul,” she wrote on Twitter alongside photos with Reubens from their days together on set. “One in all time. Thank you for my career and your forever friendship all these years and for teaching us what a true original is.”

Kelly Ripa, Judd Apatow, Cher, Katie Couric, Conan O’Brien, Kim Cattrall and more shared their memories with Reubens in tributes online.

“Paul Reubens, known and beloved as Pee-wee Herman, has died,” Bette Midler tweeted. “A completely original actor and friend; I mourn his loss. This is so hard to believe.”

Reubens was not married and did not have any children at the time of his death. He did, however, wish for donations to be made in honor of his late parents, Judy and Milton Rubenfeld, to Stand Up to Cancer or organizations involved in Dementia and Alzheimer’s care, support and research.