Actor John Paragon, who played Jambi the Genie on “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” has died, officials announced Friday. He was 66.
According to a news release from the Riverside County Coroner’s Office, Paragon died April 3 in Palm Springs, California. The actor died from heart disease and “other significant conditions” of chronic alcohol abuse, the coroner’s office said.
News of Paragon’s death was not made public until this month, the Los Angeles Times reported. The coroner’s office posted its report on Friday.
Paragon worked as a writer, director and collaborator with Paul “Pee-wee Herman” Reubens, the newspaper reported. He also helped shape the role of “Elvira, Mistress of the Dark,” played by Cassandra Peterson.
Born in Anchorage, Alaska on Dec. 9, 1954, Paragon got his start in show business as part of The Groundlings, an improvisation group based in Los Angeles, Variety reported. He worked with Reubens and comedian Phil Hartman, the magazine reported.
In 1986 he reunited with Reubens on the Saturday morning children’s television show, “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” and played the teal-faced Jambi the Genie and provided the voice of Pterri the Pterodactyl.
Paragon also wrote 24 regular-season episodes and co-wrote its 1988 Christmas special with Reubens, which earned them a daytime Emmy nomination, Variety reported. Paragon earned five Emmy nominations through the years, the Times reported. He appeared on the show from 1986 to 1990, according to People.
In 2010, Paragon reprised his role of Jambi for the Broadway revival of the “Pee-wee Herman” stage show.
Paragoon played a role on Peterson’s first television series, “Movie Macabre,” as an annoying caller named “the Breather,” the Times reported. He later co-wrote her 1988 feature film, “Elvira: Mistress of the Dark.”
“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,” Peterson tweeted. “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.”
Paragon’s other roles include “Eating Raoul” in 1982, “Echo Park” in 1985, “The Frog Prince,” “Cheers,” and a recurring role as Cedric on “Seinfeld.”
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