John Paragon, an actor, director, and writer best known for his disembodied, teal-faced role as Jambi the Genie in Paul Reubens Pee-wee’s playhouse, died April 3 in Palm Springs of unknown causes. Hey 66.
Paragon’s death, which was made public recently, was confirmed to News Block by the Riverside County Coroner.
In addition to his work with frequent collaborator Reubens, he also lent his voice to Pterri the Pterodactyl on Theater – Paragon is remembered for His field fans like Cedric, the half of the Bob and Cedric couple who appeared occasionally to intimidate Michael Ricards’ Kramer. In the famous episode “The Soup Nazi”, Paragon and actor Yul Vázquez, like Bob, stole a closet that Kramer was guarding for Elaine (Julia-Louis Dreyfus).
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Paragon was, like Reubens, a member of the Los Angeles Groundlings comedy troupe, and contributed to the writing of the first stage performances featuring the character of Pee-wee Herman. Jambi’s character moved from the stage act to CBS on Saturday morning. Theater, albeit in a much more subdued and child-friendly representation. The character was best known for his catchphrase, the magical incantation “Mecca lecca hello, mecca zity ho!”
Alaskan-born Paragon also wrote and directed many episodes of the 1986-90 series.
The Groundlings background provided Paragon with another successful collaborator: Cassandra “Elvira” Peterson. Paragon wrote the movie Elvira: lover of darkness (1988), and wrote and produced several projects for Elvira TV. He also lent his voice to the off-screen “Breather”, who tormented Elvira.
As an actor, Paragon made appearances in films such as Eating raoul (1982), Echo park (1985), UHF (1989) and Baby I blew up the boy (1992) as well as the television series Cheers Sledge Hammer !, Nightstand and, from 1995 to 1998, three episodes of Seinfeld (The Nazi Soup, The Sponge other Puerto Rico Day).
His directing credits include Silk stalking other Pacific Blue, among others.
On Broadway, Paragon repeated Jambi the Genie for Reubens The Pee-wee Herman Show in 2010.