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Pee-Wee’s Playhouse star John Paragon passes away at the age of 66


Pee-Wee’s Playhouse star John Paragon passes away at the age of 66… with cause of death ‘unclear’

  • John Paragon has passed away at the age of 66 
  • The Riverside County Coroner told TMZ on Thursday that the actor had passed away ‘back in April’ 
  • As of now, Paragon’s cause of death is ‘unclear’
  • The Alaska native famously played the role of Jambi the Genie on the beloved 1980s children’s television series Pee-wee’s Playhouse
  • He was also the voice of Pterri the Pterodactyl on the hit show, which ran for a total of five seasons from 1986 until 1990
  • Paragon earned an Emmy nomination for co-writing 1988’s Pee-wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special

Pee-Wee’s Playhouse star John Paragon has passed away. 

On Thursday, the Riverside County Coroner informed TMZ that the 66-year-old actor had died ‘back in April’ and that his cause of death remains ‘unclear.’

Paragon famously played the role of Jambi the Genie on the beloved 1980s children’s sitcom Pee-wee’s Playhouse.  

RIP: Pee-Wee’s Playhouse star John Paragon has passed away; pictured in 2016

Jambi the Genie, which required John to rock blue face paint and an elaborate turban, would appear on screen when the series’ star Pee-Wee (played by Paul Reubens) would make a wish. 

He also provided the voice for Pterri the Pterodactyl, who happened to be one of Pee-Wee’s closest onscreen pals.

Pee-wee’s Playhouse ran for a total of five seasons, from 1986 until 1990, on CBS, with Paragon writing and directing several of the episodes.

He first portrayed Jambi in Reubens’ self-developed stage show The Pee-wee Herman Show, which aired as a special on HBO in 1981. 

Iconic: Paragon famously played the role of Jambi the Genie on the beloved 1980s children's television series Pee-wee's Playhouse; Paul Reubens and John Paragon pictured in 1986

Iconic: Paragon famously played the role of Jambi the Genie on the beloved 1980s children’s television series Pee-wee’s Playhouse; Paul Reubens and John Paragon pictured in 1986

The show originally began as a midnight show at the iconic Groundlings theater in Los Angeles, where he and Reubens got their start.

In 1988, two years into Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, Paragon and Reubens co-wrote a nearly 50-minute Christmas special for the series.

The Pee-wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special aired on December 21, 1988 and would go onto earn John an Emmy nomination for for Best Writing in a Children’s Special, according to TheWrap

In character: Jambi the Genie, which required John to rock blue face paint and an elaborate turban, would appear on screen when the series' star Pee-Wee (played by Paul Reubens) would make a wish; John Paragon pictured in 1986

In character: Jambi the Genie, which required John to rock blue face paint and an elaborate turban, would appear on screen when the series’ star Pee-Wee (played by Paul Reubens) would make a wish; John Paragon pictured in 1986

Unclear: On Thursday, the Riverside County Coroner informed TMZ that the 66-year-old actor had died 'back in April' and that his cause of death remains 'unclear'; Paragon pictured in 2014

Unclear: On Thursday, the Riverside County Coroner informed TMZ that the 66-year-old actor had died ‘back in April’ and that his cause of death remains ‘unclear’; Paragon pictured in 2014

20-years after the conclusion of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse on CBS, Reubens was able to wrangle most of the gang back together, including Paragon, to reprise their roles in the Broadway adaptation of Pee-wee Herman stage show in 2010. 

Aside from his work in the Pee-Wee Herman universe, John has lent his acting chops to hit sitcoms like Cheers and Seinfeld.

He also had a recurring role in the 2010 revival of Elvira’s Movie Macabre playing The Breather alongside Elvira, herself, Cassandra Peterson.

Revival: 20-years after the conclusion of Pee-Wee's Playhouse on CBS, Reubens was able to wrangle most of the gang back together, including Paragon, to reprise their roles in the Broadway adaptation of Pee-wee Herman stage show in 2010

Revival: 20-years after the conclusion of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse on CBS, Reubens was able to wrangle most of the gang back together, including Paragon, to reprise their roles in the Broadway adaptation of Pee-wee Herman stage show in 2010

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