For those who grew up watching Pee-Wee Herman on “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” there were many characters who stood out. Just a few who come to mind are Cowboy Curtis, Miss Yvonne, Chairry, Captain Carl, Magic Screen, Globey, and also Mr. Kite.
Sadly, one of the people who brought one of the most popular characters on the children’s show to life recently passed away.
According to PopCulture, that person was John Paragon. He played the character, Jambi the genie, on the famous Saturday-morning children’s television series. Paragon was 66 years old at the time of his death, which took place in April 2021. News of his death did not come to light until June.
In the wake of Paragon’s death, Paul Reubens – the actor who famously portrayed Pee-Wee Herman – has shared his feelings about the Jambi the genie actor. Reubens reportedly shared his thoughts on his website. Interestingly, Reubens and Paragon met while working with one of the most famous improve groups in the United States.
“I met John Paragon, Jambi the genie on ‘Pee-Wee’s Playhouse,’ at the improvisational comedy group The Groundlings, where both our careers started,” Reubens also shared.
It was The Groundlings organization that broke the news of John Paragon’s death.
Pee-Wee Herman Actor Paul Reubens Said He and John Paragon ‘Became Best Friends Instantly’
Paul Reubens had several other kind words to share about John Paragon
“He was sly and wickedly funny,” Reubens said. “We became best friends instantly. In a group of exceptionally talented and funny people, he stuck out. Stood out.”
This wasn’t all Reubens had to say about his former costar. In fact, Reubens credited Paragon with his success.
“He contributed so heavily to my success,” Reubens also said. “Over decades, we performed together, wrote together and hung out together. In our affection for one another (and our competitiveness), we made each other funnier. We felt magical together, and I think sometimes that translated into the work we created.”
Interestingly, the name of John Paragon’s character on “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” was inspired by a restaurant.
“When ‘The Pee-Wee Herman Show’ was born, John had an idea about being a magic genie,” Reubens also said. “A day later, he and I were driving along Hollywood Boulevard when I looked over and saw a sign for a sandwich shop named ‘Jambi’s.'”
Reubens also described Paragon as his “closest friend.”
“From the time we were both starting out, through my success and fame as Pee-Wee Herman, John was my closest friend,” Reubens also said. “And through all of those years, we had huge amounts of fun and laughed our asses off together. I really loved him.”
Reubens also shared a sweet message for his “closest friend.”
“Rest In Peace, John. I was lucky to know you so deeply,” the “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” star also said. “Mekka Lekka Hi, Mekka Hiney Ho, John. Long live Jambi.”
According to IMDb.com, “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” aired from 1986 until 1991. Those years produced 45 episodes of the sometimes weird, typically goofy, and entertaining series.
In tribute to John Paragon, you can watch the opening segment of “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” below.