Herman, a quirky bow-tied man-child, debuted in 1978.
The character was inspired by a boy Reubens met in camp
when he was younger. His voice was modeled after a role
he played as a child actor. Pee-Wee was able to get gigs
in many clubs that would not hire Reubens. Reubens was
also in a number of films in the early '80s, including
Cheech and Chong's Next Movie, where he is a hotel clerk
and appears as Pee-wee, Cheech and Chong's Nice Dreams,
where he is a coke-snorting psycho "Hamburger Man," and
he was Pinocchio in the Faerie Tale Theater production.
As Pee-Wee, Reubens tried out for Saturday Night Live.
When he didn't make it, he appeared in more movies and
tv shows, and began writing a feature length film starring
Pee-wee. Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, directed by Reubens'
friend Tim Burton, was a great success. Reubens was soon
offered a deal to do a children's show. Pee-Wee's Playhouse
had an enormous budget of $325,000 per episode. Reubens
had complete creative control. During the Playhouse's
five-year run, Reubens never appeared in public without
the customary grey suit and red bow-tie.