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John Paragon (1954–2021), played Jambi the Genie on “Pee-wee’s Playhouse”

by Linnea Crowther

John Paragon was an actor who played Jambi the Genie on the 1980s cult classic children’s TV show “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.”

Acting career

Paragon was a member of the well-known Los Angeles improv troupe the Groundlings, alongside comedians including Paul “Pee-wee Herman” Reubens and Phil Hartman. He made his TV debut in “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” playing the genie who was a disembodied head in a box. Jambi granted Pee-wee a wish in each episode, asking the audience to chant along with him, “Mecka lecka hi, mecka hiney ho.” Paragon had roles in a number of movies, including “Eating Raoul” (1982), “UHF” (1989), and “Honey, I Blew Up the Kid” (1992). He made appearances on TV shows including “Cheers,” “Seinfeld,” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.” Paragon also wrote for “Elvira’s Movie Macabre” as well as occasionally guest starring.

Tributes to John Paragon

Full obituary: The Wrap


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