“Pee-wee’s Playhouse” star John Paragon has died at the age of 66.
The actor best known for his role as blue-faced Jambi the Genie on the children’s TV series passed at his home in Palm Springs, California, on April 3.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department made details of Paragon’s death public on Friday. The cause of death was determined to be from “atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease with other significant conditions of chronic alcohol abuse,” according to coroner Chad Bianco.
Jerod Harris via Getty Images “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” star John Paragon has died at the age of 66.
Born in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1954, Paragon’s first taste of the entertainment industry came in the 1970s as part of the Los Angeles-based improv group The Groundlings.
Paragon starred in 1981 with fellow Groundling Paul Reubens in “The Pee-wee Herman Show” and then the subsequent children’s show, “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” which ran from 1986 to 1990. He also had a role in the 1985 movie “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” Tim Burton’s feature film directorial debut.
Of his 46 acting credits, Paragon had a recurring role as Cedric on “Seinfeld” and appeared in the “Weird Al” Yankovic comedy “UHF,” “Cheers,” “The Elvira Show” and “Elvira’s Movie Macabre.”
Albert L. Ortega via Getty Images Actor John Paragon, who played Jambi the Genie on “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” attends Day 2 of the Third Annual Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo held at Los Angeles Convention Center on November 1, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
Reubens (aka Pee-wee Herman) paid tribute to his former collaborator in a lengthy statement on his website Friday, describing Paragon as “sly and wickedly funny” and crediting him with contributing “so heavily to my success.”
“From the time we were both starting out, through my success and fame as Pee-wee Herman, John was my closest friend,” he wrote. “And through all of those years, we had huge amounts of fun and laughed our asses off together. I really loved him. Rest In Peace, John. I was lucky to know you so deeply.”
I met John Paragon, Jambi the genie on Pee-wee’s Playhouse, at the improvisational comedy group The @Groundlings, where both our careers started. We became best friends instantly… https://t.co/U2GzUPG8gu pic.twitter.com/ewS8xpCIva
— Pee-wee Herman (@peeweeherman) June 18, 2021
Other friends, fans and former colleagues also paid tribute to the actor:
Lost someone that meant the world to me and was such a huge part of “Elvira” and my life that it’s impossible to express how sad I feel. John Paragon, my writing partner of 27 years…my friend, my brother, my soul-mate. I will miss you and love you forever, Johnny #RIPJohnParagon pic.twitter.com/ajz0nhIXLs
— Elvira (@TheRealElvira) June 18, 2021
Shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of the amazingly talented John Paragon. Ramon Azteca, Jambi the Genie, Mr. Excitement, The Breather, The Paragon of Comedy, Groundling, improviser, writer, performer, producer he did it all – and brilliantly. https://t.co/caRuNXBtz3 pic.twitter.com/ehAcsWPWrP
— Phil LaMarr (@phillamarr) June 18, 2021
R.I.P John Paragon https://t.co/cUo4jXMYPm
— The Groundlings (@groundlings) June 18, 2021
Sad to hear that John Paragon, known for his role as Jambi the Genie, has passed. A cult filmmaker & figure in his own right, I was fortunate to have done a gig w/ him awhile ago where he proved to be gracious and tolerant of my nerdy questions. Rest well, thanks for the magic. pic.twitter.com/pAU3VWlHve
— Michael Varrati (@MichaelVarrati) June 17, 2021
Yesterday, the news broke that John Paragon, who played Jambi The Genie on Pee Wee’s Playhouse had passed. John was a brilliant actor, writer and director who will be sorely missed. Here’s one of my favorite Paragon sketches. So good… https://t.co/ueGoADwaJ7