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The Law & Order Star Who Did A Stint On Pee-Wee's Playhouse

When "Law & Order" fans look back at some of the show's biggest stars — like Sam Waterston, Jerry Orbach, Chris Noth, Jesse L. Martin, and S. Epatha Merkerson — it's hard to imagine seeing one of the TV crime drama legends doing a stint on the goofy '80s children's series, "Pee-wee's Playhouse." But it actually happened.

Airing from 1986 to 1990, "Pee-wee's Playhouse" was a Paul Reubens-led CBS kids show that featured a wide array of characters and actors, including Phil Hartman and Laurence Fishburne. The "Law & order" star who appeared on the cult-classic ensemble series was featured in 16 of its 45 episodes, portraying one of the many side characters. While on "Law & Order," they went on to become one of its most recognizable faces — appearing in more episodes than anyone else in show history.

But it was ultimately "Pee-wee's Playhouse" where the actor got their big break on the silver screen. And it's something they've said they'll never forget.

S. Epatha Merkerson spent nearly half a decade playing Reba the Mail Lady

It was a television stint like no other, says S. Epatha Merkerson AKA "Law & Order" Lieutenant Anita Van Buren, who played Reba the Mail Lady in "Pee-wee's Playhouse" from 1986 to 1990 (via IMDb). Speaking in an exclusive clip from the "Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Complete Series" Blu-Ray, Merkerson said: "Literally I was in awe at everything I saw" (via USA Today).

According to Merkerson, the idea of her character Reba was that she was the only regular from the "real world" who wasn't part of Pee-wee's established fantasy land. Merkerson said, "She was the straight person. She was the only person that came to the playhouse — one of the denizens, one of the regulars — who was like from the other world, from the real world. So what I always wanted to do was approach it like I did when I walked into the Playhouse... There has to be a reality check around here somewhere with all this madness. That was literally how I approached it. Like, you know you're going to deliver mail here, and you know it's going to be crazy."

After "Pee-wee's Playhouse," Merkerson went on to do a number of other television projects before eventually landing her now-iconic spot on "Law & Order" in 1993. Years later, she's the official titleholder for longest-running cast member and most episodes in show history. Somewhere out there, Pee-wee, Chairy, and Conky are all smiling.