John Paragon, who played the amazing Jambi the genie on Pee-Wee's Playhouse, has died at the age of 66. The Riverside County coroner told TMZ that he died back in April, but no cause of death is known at this time. Paragon is best known for playing the blue genie on Pee-wee's Playhouse, but he actually made his TV debut on the show in Paul Reubens' stage show The Pee-wee Herman Show. He would then join Playhouse, reprising his role as Jambi but also going on to write and direct several episodes of the show during its 5-year run, though that's not the only work he did with the franchise.
Paragon would work with Reubens again in 1988, co-writing Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special, and would go on to earn an Emmy nomination for Best Writing in a Children's Special for his work on the special. He still wasn't quite done with the franchise though, as he would reprise the role of Jambi in the Broadway Pee-wee Herman stage show.
Jambi the Genie would appear in a purple and red box that featured a host of jewels, and he would pop up when Pee-wee made a wish for something. Jambi was instantly recognizable le with his blue makeup, red lips, and red and gold turban, though he also voiced Pterri the Pterodactyl during his time on the series.
He would also be featured in shows like Cheers, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Seinfeld, Harry and the Hendersons, Movie Macabre, and more throughout his career, and most recently he was working with Walt Disney Imagineering to create ideas for their Disney theme park improv performances. That goes back to how he started in the business, as he started performing improve at The Groundlings alongside Reubens as well as his future co-stars Phil Hartman and Cassandra Peterson.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.