RIP Gary Austin, founder of the Groundlings

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RIP Gary Austin, founder of the Groundlings


My Pee-wee suit was originally his. He loaned me a custom-made suit the first time I performed as Pee-wee Herman, and I kept it.


I met Gary when I joined his group The Groundlings in 1977 (at age 2). That place he created, The Groundlings Workshop, taught improvisation and specialized in creating characters. He was my teacher, mentor and friend. He was hilarious and loved to laugh. And he loved making people laugh too. He was talented and kind– and what originally drew me to the group of performers he’d assembled, was the same combination Gary himself had: everybody was talented, but also nice. That was a wonderful environment, and the amazing people and work that sprang from Gary¹s creation is staggering.

To everybody influenced, befriended and mentored by Gary, I share great sadness, loss, debt and LOVE.


Thank you, Gary!


10 Responses to “RIP Gary Austin, founder of the Groundlings”

  1. Kath Gilliam

    I’m sorry you have lost your dear friend and the world has lost someone of his caliber.

  2. Helen Gircko

    I’m terribly sorry for your loss … He was an infinitely talented and amazing person. At such moments it seems that the heavens jealously takes away wonderful people from us. But everything that Gary did in the art world will forever remain in the heart and memory. Rest in Peace, Gary Austin …

  3. melaniemarshall

    Dear P., my heart is heavy for you. I always wish you happiness. Never stop enjoying the memories, and thank you for all you do.

  4. laura valentina

    Dear Paul,

    My sincerest condolences regarding this. Please know you are in my thoughts. I say in regards to such a fabulous person, now in heaven, he is a leader of the group without him, the plants & flowers of great actors wouldn’t have grown in the beautiful garden that’s known as the groundlings. RIP. ☦❤

  5. Robert Raymond Britz

    What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man Pee Wee. What stood out to me when reading your post was how you stated everyone in your group was “nice”. Often we forget how very important that quality is. My heart feels for you in what must be a trying time.

  6. Phyllis Ann Salomone Collins

    He is definitely in a good, happy, loving place. All of the laughter and fun he brought on with his mind and heart got him there. Peace and comfort and Love.

  7. Jenny Wynter

    Beautiful words Paul. I was devastated by this news, I had the great fortune to be taught, mentored and later directed by Gary in my first one-woman show which went on to do really well and win awards thanks to him. One of my great sadnesses now is that I never made it back to LA to perform it again at The Groundlings, which he kept urging me to do. It’s on my list now. Such an amazing, inspiring and yes, nice, human being!

  8. Jasmine

    I’m sorry you lost a friend Paul. I read about your time with the groundlings in a book about the Playhouse and it sounds like it was probably a very bright time in your life.

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