Severe alcohol abuse played a role in the death of John Paragon, who was known as the beloved blue-faced genie Jambi on “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” The Post has learned.
According to the Riverside County Coroner, Paragon died on April 3 from “cardiovascular disease with other significant conditions of chronic alcohol abuse.”
He was 66 years old.
The actor, who was known for his genie chant of the iconic magic words: “Meka leka hi meka hiney ho,” was found dead in his Palm Springs, Calif. residence around 6 p.m.
He played the role for nearly five years, from 1986 to 1991, and wrote several episodes, earning an Emmy nomination for Best Writing in a Children’s Special.
Born in Anchorage, Alaska, Paragon got his big break as a member of the groundbreaking Groundlings improv group, which made stars out of fellow “Pee-wee” alumni Paul Reubens as well as Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Will Ferrell, Maya Rudolph and many more.
Throughout the 1980s, Paragon also appeared in a number of feature films including The Frog Prince” (1986), Weird Al Yankovic’s “UHF” (1989) and the cult cannibalism classic “Eating Raoul” (1982), and was later seen making cameos on “Seinfeld.”
“I am sooo sad. This is terrible news,” wrote former “Saturday Night Live” star Julia Sweeney. “I didn’t know him well, but I admired him greatly & he was deeply loved by so many whom I know well. So many laughs. Sad for The Groundlings. Sad for comedy. Very sad day. RIP John Paragon. 💔””