Movies » TV

Still Claiming Pee-wee 30 Years Later: Remembering 12 Late Big Adventure Actors


Not all of the 'Pee-wee's Big Adventure' cast members are still with us. - COURTESY
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  • Not all of the 'Pee-wee's Big Adventure' cast members are still with us.

Tina the Alamo tour guide annoys Pee-wee with her ongoing Texas history lesson and gum mastication, but her sunny disposition and Southern drawl make it a memorable character for Hooks, who went on to star on Saturday Night Live the following year. Hooks died last year at 57 from cancer. "She was really great in [Pee-wee's Big Adventure]," SNL alum and ex-boyfriend Kevin Nealon told the San Antonio Current when Hooks died in October. "I don't think anyone will run into someone like her again. She was one of a kind."

Phil Hartman (Reporter) Without actor/writer Hartman, there would be no Pee-wee Herman. He co-created the character with star Paul Reubens during their time in the improv comedy troupe The Groundlings in the late '70s. Hartman has a cameo in Big Adventure as a reporter interviewing character Francis Buxton in the final scene at the drive-in. In May 1998, he was shot and killed by his wife while he slept. He was 49.

Alice Nunn (Large Marge) Along with the clown surgeon scene, Nunn's character Large Marge, a ghostly truck driver who gives Pee-wee a lift, provides the biggest scare of the movie via stop-motion animation. Nunn was 60 when she passed away in 1988 following a heart attack.

Jon Harris (Andy) As Simone's jealous and gargantuan boyfriend Andy, the seven-foot-plus Harris, who also wrestled professionally, chased Pee-wee around rodeo grounds before coming face to face with an angry bull. Harris died in 2005 at 52.

Ed Herlihy as Mr. Buxton in 'Pee-wee's Big Adventure.' - COURTESY
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  • Ed Herlihy as Mr. Buxton in 'Pee-wee's Big Adventure.'

Ed Herlihy (Mr. Buxton) Mr. Buxton was none too pleased when Pee-wee broke into his mansion and accused his son Francis of stealing his bike. Pee-wee gets his revenge by giving the upset dad a stick of spicy gum. Herlihy, who was the announcer on The Jack Parr Tonight Show, died of natural causes in 1999 at 89.

Toru Tanaka as Butler in 'Pee-wee's Big Adventure.' - COURTESY
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  • Toru Tanaka as Butler in 'Pee-wee's Big Adventure.'

Toru Tanaka (Butler) Pee-wee pulls a fast one on the Buxton family's butler when he knocks on the mansion door looking for Francis. He later makes a big splash in Francis' bathwater. Tanaka, who also played Subzero in The Running Man, passed away at 70 in 2000 from heart failure.

Carmen Flipi as Hobo Joe in 'Pee-wee's Big Adventure.' - COURTESY
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  • Carmen Flipi as Hobo Joe in 'Pee-wee's Big Adventure.'

Carmen Flipi (Hobo Joe) His rendition of "Jimmy Crack Corn" puts Pee-wee over the edge and sends him jumping off a moving train. Luckily for Pee-wee, he ends up landing right where he wanted — in San Antonio. Flipi, who also had small parts in Burton's films Beetlejuice and Ed Wood, died in 2003 from cancer-related illnesses at 80.

Simmy Bow (Man in Diner) After Pee-wee tells the diner full of patrons, "Large Marge sent me," this unnamed man in the diner explains to him that Large Marge had died a decade ago. Bow died in 1987 at 66 from complications from a stroke. His last film was Burton's Beetlejuice, in which he played a deceased janitor.

Luis Contreras as Biker #2 in 'Pee-wee's Big Adventure.' - COURTESY
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  • Luis Contreras as Biker #2 in 'Pee-wee's Big Adventure.'

Luis Contreras (Biker #2) This biker with an eye patch suggests his gang, Satan's Helpers, stab, tattoo, hang, then kill Pee-wee after he knocks over all their motorcycles outside the biker bar. Later, Biker #2 wishes Pee-wee good luck in finding his bike after he impresses them with his dancing. Contreras died of cancer in 2004 at 53.

Irving Hellman as Mr. Crowtray in 'Pee-wee's Big Adventure.' - COURTESY
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  • Irving Hellman as Mr. Crowtray in 'Pee-wee's Big Adventure.'

Irving Hellman (Mr. Crowtray) Only a friendly neighbor would let Pee-wee water his lawn with such a crazy sprinkler. Hellman died in 2000 at 87.

Mark Everett as BMX Kid in 'Pee-wee's Big Adventure.' - COURTESY
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  • Mark Everett as BMX Kid in 'Pee-wee's Big Adventure.'

Mark Everett (BMX Kid) He was one of the seven BMX bikers in Chuck's Bike-O-Rama when Pee-wee comes in to pick up his horn from Dottie. He delivers the line, "Sure is gettin' hot in here," when Dottie tells Pee-wee hello. Born Manuel Benitez, Everett was killed in 2008 at 39 after a gun battle with police in a Chinese restaurant in California.

Milton Berle (himself) The iconic actor unknowingly helps Pee-wee sneak onto the Warner Bros. lot when Pee-wee walks with Berle's entourage as they laugh at his jokes. Known as "Mr. Television" during TV's Golden Age, Berle died of cancer in 2002 at 93.

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