Speaking out on Pee-Wee -- See what Zsa Zsa Gabor, Annette Funicello, and Valeria Golino had to say
Within hours of the news of Paul Reubens’ arrest, the court of public opinion began hearings on the Pee-wee Herman scandal. Here, some thoughts from five people in a better-than-average position to comment on the man and his talent.
Valeria Golino, actress (Rain Man, Hot Shots) who came from Italy to play Herman’s girlfriend in Big Top Pee-wee: ”Paul Reubens is why I am in America. He is a gifted and sensitive man with a great sense of humor. I find it very hypocritical. They have these porno movies…and they put police in the theaters? I don’t understand this. I don’t care if he did it or not — he’s a great guy.”
Annette Funicello, veteran of children’s television who appeared with Pee-wee in 1987’s Back to the Beach: ”What is the big deal? He has given so much pleasure to little kids, and what they’re doing to him is sad. I like him a lot. If I were able to call him now, I would say, ‘So many people are on your side. We love you. Just hang in there — it will blow over. These things do.”’
Randal Kleiser, who directed Herman in Big Top Pee-wee: ”In a way, fate may have stepped in to help him change his direction. People forget that the original Pee-wee Herman used to put mirrors on his shoes and look up girls’ dresses. He has a wonderful sense of humor, and I think what he’s probably going to do now is re-invent himself the way that David Bowie and Madonna do from time to time.”
Zsa Zsa Gabor, actress who worked with Pee-wee on a Playhouse Christmas special, and survivor of her own brush with the law: ”He’s a wonderful man. I find him a great talent. I was shocked. I didn’t think he was that type, but people like to pick on people who make good money. I mean, look at Charlie Chaplin. He was ahead of his time, darling, but he had problems too.”
Ted Schoenhaus, publisher of the industry newsletter Toy & Hobby World, which predicted the scandal would doom Pee-wee products: ”Pee-wee was always a little daffy — that’s what kids like. But you can’t do stuff like that and have a toy. Pee-wee had his ride — he made his career and he blew his career. You can’t come back after notoriety like that.”