Paul Reubens' Arrest Led To Bill Cosby Coming To His Defense

Paul Reubens' character, Pee-wee Herman, was loved by kids and adults since the series "Pee-wee's Playhouse" debuted on television in 1986. The affable, children-friendly actor was a hit until Reubens was arrested in 1991. As reported by the Tampa Bay Times, the actor allegedly exposed himself in an adult theater in his hometown of Sarasota, Florida. Reubens was charged with a misdemeanor count of indecent exposure. He was released on a $219 bond.

When news of Reubens' arrest became public, he became the subject of a lot of backlash. While "Pee-wee's Playhouse" had already wrapped up its sixth and final season, CBS had planned to air reruns of the show. The network axed that plan after the scandal, per the Daily News. "In light of current circumstances and until we know more, these episodes will not be presented on CBS," a rep for the network stated. Disney also stopped showing an informational video starring Reubens as Pee-wee Herman for their backstage tour. 

Amid the fallout, Reubens became the butt of many jokes but a handful of celebrities defended the actor.

Bill Cosby spoke up in defense of Paul Reubens

While Paul Reubens' arrest was shocking, particularly because he was an entertainer for children, there were many who stood by him. At the time, Bill Cosby was also a beloved figure in the family-friendly television niche, and as reported by the Baltimore Sun, he stated, "Whatever he may have done, he hasn't done that to the children." The actor added that '[The] cost to our society in taxes is going to be far, far less money than what will be required to clean up the banking industry ... or the AIDS epidemic." Cosby would go on to be accused of dozens of sexual assaults over multiple decades. 

Singer-songwriter Cyndi Lauper also defended her friend. "Paul has already been unfairly tried by the media. The alleged charge is a petty victimless occurrence. I am disappointed by the unfair coverage and concerned that this incident took priority over the summit in Moscow," she declared.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Cosby and Lauper weren't the only ones who came to Reubens' defense. At the time, the news program "A Current Affair" found via a telephone survey that callers overwhelmingly supported Reubens. Fans held protests in New York, Los Angeles, and a "Hands Off Our Pee-wee" rally was held by fans in San Francisco. 

However, despite public support, Reubens remained out of the public eye for years. He defended his actions years later.

Paul Reubens was ready to deny the accusations in court

In a 2010 interview with Playboy (via the Daily News), he said, "Had we gone to trial, we had ready an expert from the Masters and Johnson Institute who was going to testify that in 30 years of research on masturbation, the institute had never found one person who masturbated with his or her nondominant hand." Reubens explained to the Playboy interviewer that he was, in fact, right-handed. 

He also bemoaned the change in public perception. Up until then, Reubens was only seen in public in character, but after the arrest, he said "I went straight from being just Pee-wee Herman to that scary mug shot."

Reubens was accused of possessing child pornography in 2004, a charge that was dropped. The eccentric entertainer kept dozens of collections, including vintage erotic art. Although he pled guilty to obscenity and spend three years on probation, he denied any wrongdoing. In a 2004 NBC interview, he said, "The public may think I'm weird. They may think I'm crazy or anything that anyone wants to think about me. That's all fine. As long as one of the things you're not thinking about me is that I'm a pedophile. Because that's not true."

Reubens added, "I don't know what the ending is to my story. But I think it's going to be a happy one." After his death on July 30, fans are mourning Reubens as the loveable Pee-wee Herman.