There’s not many scenes in a family movie that can scare children as well as adults, even more than 30 years later, but the legend of Large Marge from Pee-wee’s Big Adventure has that rare distinction. Large Marge died in a fiery auto wreck on a stretch of highway on January 11th, 1974 and she’s still haunting the dreams of nearly anybody who has seen the movie. In honor of the 44th anniversary of her death, Pee-wee Herman took to Twitter to pay tribute to her legend.
In Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Pee-wee is hitchhiking on a dark foggy night when he gets picked up by Large Marge who is quiet for a bit before she shares her haunting tale. She begins by saying, “On this very night, ten years ago, along this same stretch of road in a dense fog just like this…” and goes on to say that she saw the worst accident that she’s ever seen. It apparently sounded “like a garbage truck dropped off the Empire State Building.” She goes on to detail the mess further, saying, “and when they finally pulled the driver’s body from the twisted, burning wreck…” It’s at this point that many viewers remember being scared for the first time.
When Pee-wee gets out of her truck, she tells him to say, “be sure an’ tell ’em Large Marge sent ya’!” The scene is welcomed as an eerie turn into The Twilight Zone, complete with a popcorn-spilling shocks for all ages thanks to the Claymation wizards behind Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Tim Burton really set something up in that brief 2-minute scene that has stuck with many children through childhood. Late character actress Alice Nunn, who passed away in 1988, played Large Marge in the movie, a character who was born on December 5th, 1937 and died on January 11th, 1974.
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure marked the first time that Tim Burton and Danny Elfman worked together, and the pair truly created something memorable that also didn’t quite fit in as purely a movie for children. Instead, the movie works for adults as well and almost seems like it would be at least rated PG-13 if it were released today. The story of a man-child obsessed with his missing bike takes some demented turns and even features a cameo by Twisted Sister when they’re on the Warner Bros. studio lot.
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure made Tim Burton who he is today and unleashed the legend of Large Marge into the world. Though the day isn’t celebrated by the masses, it truly should be. January 11th should be a day of remembrance for Large Marge and Pee-wee Herman is doing his part to spread the word, the rest is up to us. You can check out the loving tribute to Large Marge below, courtesy of Pee-wee Herman’s Twitter account. Be sure an’ tell ’em Large Marge sent ya’!
— Pee-wee Herman (@peeweeherman) January 11, 2018