Paul Reubens Is Worth Less Than You Think

Paul Reubens is an actor, comedian, and TV personality who has an estimated net worth of $5 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. Reubens is best known for his work as Pee-wee Herman, a character that he debuted as a member of the "famed" Groundlings comedy troupe in the late '70s (per Wired) before launching into entertainment superstardom. That included starring roles in films like "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" and "Big Top Pee-wee" as well as television shows such as "Pee-wee's Playhouse," according to IMDb. Indeed, the character of Pee-wee Herman was massively popular, and he made Reubens a household name.

However, Reubens would go on to have a massive fall from grace when he was arrested in 1991 for allegedly committing a lewd act in a movie theater, as noted by Today. For years, Reubens was relegated to the status of a punchline, and it seemed like his career — and his finances — would never recover from the mishap. However, through it all, Reubens kept on working (though not as his recognizable alter ego), popping up in everything from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (the 1992 movie, not the TV show) to "30 Rock" and "Portlandia."

Derailed career or not, we were surprised to learn that Reubens is only worth $5 million, especially given the popularity of his work over the years. To that end, here's what we know about Paul Reubens' net worth.

Paul Reubens was born into a middle-class family

Paul Reubens was born into a middle-class family in Upstate New York and relocated to Sarasota, Florida as a child, according to The New York Times. Right out of the gate, Reubens knew that he wasn't like everyone else. "I felt like a total oddball, like, almost every minute of growing up, so it would be hard to kind of isolate that," he recalled in an interview with NPR.

If you've ever been to Sarasota, you probably know that it was the winter home of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for many years. Interestingly enough, the presence of the circus in the area had a significant impact on Reubens, thanks to his eclectic neighbors. "I met lots of circus people," he continued. "I mean, for one thing, you could see the circus people coming down the street — like the lady with the bright red hair and the wooden shoes, you know?" No wonder Reubens' performance artist neighbors stood out "in a very conservative small town."

Unsurprisingly, Reubens was drawn to comedy. After attending the California Institute of the Arts, as noted by The Hollywood Reporter, he became a member of the well-known comedy troupe The Groundlings – in fact, Reubens' late "Pee-wee's Playhouse" co-star John Paragon was also a member. And while he was selling Fuller Brushes on the side to make ends meet (via the Chicago Tribune), Reubens was destined for success.

Paul Reubens boasts a fairly impressive career

It was while Paul Reubens was working with The Groundlings that he developed the character of Pee-wee Herman, according to The Hollywood Reporter. It was in this persona that Reubens began to find success, though not until he was rejected by "Saturday Night Live" and took matters into his own hands. "I just got off the plane and went, 'I'm doing a show,'" he revealed. "I made some phone calls and two days later I had the whole cast." That show was "The Pee-wee Herman Show," a live stage show Reubens financed with a little help from his parents (per the Chicago Tribune).

It wasn't long after hitting the stage that HBO came calling, which launched Reubens' television career. That led to the green light for "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" — from there, Reubens was a bonafide celebrity as his alter ego, one who no longer had to sell Fuller Brushes to keep the lights on. Everything was coming up roses until Reubens' notorious 1991 arrest, which caused him to shelve Pee-wee Herman for the better part of two decades.

While Reubens has worked steadily in the years since his arrest, he resurrected Pee-wee Herman at the tail end of the aughts — and orchestrated a genuine comeback in 2016 — with "Pee-wee's Big Holiday." And while he's arguably not rolling in dough, Reubens has been awarded tens of millions for his project budgets. Impressive.

Paul Reubens keeps his personal life low-key

For someone as famous (and, at times, infamous) as Paul Reubens, it's surprising how little is known about his personal life — other than that big 1991 headline-grabbing arrest (per the New York Daily News). That was followed by a subsequent arrest a decade later, as noted by the Village Voice, for possession of child pornography; Reubens maintains his innocence and says it was his vintage erotica collection that was the offending content. The charges were later reduced to an obscenity charge with a fine of $100, according to People. Though the fine didn't break the bank, two years of probation and registering as a sex offender sound pretty terrible.

As far as whether or not Reubens is dating anyone rich or otherwise, we weren't able to find any evidence of his relationship status. There have been rumors about Reuben's sexuality, likely fueled by the fact that the erotica he collects is mostly gay (not to mention Pee-wee Herman's flamboyant nature) and that he's been spotted in gay bars. Even on Instagram, Reubens remains in character most of the time, allowing his followers to learn little about the man behind the bowtie. Apart from posting a tribute to his late father and to friends he's lost, including Regis Philbin, his social media presence isn't revealing about his personal life. Guess we'll have to wait for the documentary about his life to drop.

Does Paul Reubens own real estate?

While Paul Reubens may have grown up in New York and Florida, that's not where he makes his permanent home. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Reubens has lived in the same home — which he bought with the paycheck he received from "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" — for nearly four decades. Given that he also drives a modest Honda Accord, odds are he doesn't live in a sprawling, cavernous mansion in the Hollywood Hills but rather a more typical house in Los Angeles. (Though, Reubens does admit to filling up his house time and time again with odd collectibles, which he discussed on an episode of Conan.)

Reubens is a huge fan of his adopted city of Los Angeles, which he opened up about in an interview with Los Angeles Magazine. That's when he dished about one of his favorite houses in the world: The Witch's House of Beverly Hills. "I've taken 100 people there in the last year," he confessed. "When I saw it was up for sale a few years ago, I went inside. I'm obsessed with it." So are plenty of other folks, as Zillow estimates the home to be worth, as of this writing, $6.6 million, which is quite a price tag. But who knows — maybe the next time it's for sale, Reubens will bite the bullet and spring for it.

How does Paul Reubens make money?

When Paul Reubens was at the top of his game in the early '90s, Pee-wee Herman merchandise was everywhere — be it dolls, clothing, collectibles, or other toys. But when he was arrested in 1991, Reubens suddenly became a pariah, and both Disney and Toys R Us dropped any Pee-wee Herman ties like a hot potato (via Entertainment Weekly). The last episodes of "Pee-wee's Playhouse" were also pulled from the air, which likely caused significant damage when it came to Reubens' net worth.

Several decades and several comebacks later, Reubens is no longer reviled as he once was, and we're honestly happy about it. That means there's merch once again, which you can purchase on Reuben's website. As far as tours go, like many others, Reubens was in the middle of touring when the COVID-19 pandemic forced him to postpone the remainder of his dates. And, because he's a good dude, Reubens refunded ticket buyers, likely taking a hit to his own personal finances to do so.

Additionally, Reubens has even hosted and appeared on game shows from time to time, though fiscal details about those contracts aren't publicly available.