John Paragon, Aka ‘Jambi The Genie’ on ‘Pee-Wee’s Playhouse,
Friends and family of actor/writer/director John Paragon paid tribute to him earlier this week, laying him to rest at Hollywood Forever in a unique urn that memorializes his character from Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, Jambi the Genie.
The purple and gold box containing his remains is a recreation of a similar Jambi box seen on television. It can be found at Abbey-Haven of Devotion, E-2 East wall, Niche D-3 at the cemetery, where many celebrities and Hollywood executives are interred.
Paragon died on April 3, 2021, at age 67 of heart disease complications. His ashes were stored by actress Cassandra Peterson (aka Elvira), who came up with the idea for the Jambi box with actor Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee Herman). A fundraiser on GoFundMe raised more than $14K toward the memorial celebration.
Paragon was a writer, director, and performer in numerous television series and specials, He started with The Groundlings improv group, where he connected with Reubens and the late Phil Hartman.
On Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, he played Jambi the Genie and provided the voice for Pterri the Pterodactyl. He also wrote many of its regular season episodes and cowrote with Reubens the Pee-wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special in 1988, for which they were nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Writing in a Children’s Special.
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His other roles include Cedric, one half of the couple Bob and Cedric on the television series Seinfeld; the title character in the children’s movie The Frog Prince; the sex shop salesman in Eating Raoul; and the owner of a strip-o-gram business in the 1986 film Echo Park.
Paragon worked with Peterson on numerous Elvira projects, including the recurring role of “The Breather,” an annoying caller, for her first television series on KHJ-TV-Los Angeles.
He also made multiple appearances at Knott’s Scary Farm with Elvira at the Good Time Theater. One of the show’s highlights was when he walked amongst the audience as Ramone Azteca.
Paragon also worked with Walt Disney Imagineering on ways to incorporate improvisational performance into attractions at Disney parks. In this capacity, he performed as the keeper of Lucky the Dinosaur during test runs of the animatronic figure.
Peterson is credited by Paragon’s sister, Mary Roberts, with moving the urn concept forward. Its creators included Chad Colebank of Tweeterhead, Jack Matthews, Chie Izuma, Aaron McNaught, and Queenie Black.
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