August 12, 2014 11:03 AM EDT

Paul Reubens’ sweet, surreal Saturday-morning show was a gift to all ages. Reubens’ hyperactive man-child lived in a house populated by living furniture, a French talking globe and a genie, and visited by jheri-curled Cowboy Curtis (a young Laurence Fishburne). Pee Wee knew what kids wanted: cartoons, craziness and a secret-word excuse to SCREAM REAL LOUD! With its camp, gender transgressiveness (Mrs. Steve?) and Miss Yvonne’s over-the-kids’-heads innuendoes, some parents found the show too adult, and when Reubens was arrested at an adult movie theater in 1991 for indecent exposure (kids’ entertainers can’t have sex drives!) it was over. But he left behind several seasons of a show that taught kids it was OK to be weird and different—even if real life didn’t return the favor to him.

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