Pee-wee Herman was inspired by kid Paul Reubens met at camp

When Paul Reubens created his iconic Pee-wee Herman character in the late ’70s, he drew on inspiration from his time at summer camp.

According to the actor/comedian’s biography on IMDB, Reubens “drew inspiration for Pee-Wee’s geeky behavior from a youth he had attended summer camp with, and derived his creation’s boyish voice from a character he played as a child actor.”

The character originated in a stage show in the ’70s and later led to a television show and two movies.

Details about the camp or Pee-wee’s real-life inspiration are scarce, but Reubens did talk about going to a summer camp with a circus program in this 2006 interview with A.V. Club.

Below is a video of The Pee-wee Herman Show on HBO in 1981.

Matt Ralph

Matt Ralph

I'm the editor of Summer Camp Culture and also blog at and I live in the Philadelphia area and went to camps and camp meetings growing up in Ohio, Maryland and New Jersey.

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