‘Pee-wee’s Playhouse’ star John Paragon dead at 66

Let us all say a prayer for Jambi: Meka leka hi meka hiney ho.

John Paragon, the veteran actor who played the blue-faced genie Jambi on “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” has died. He was 66.

Paragon passed away in April, although the cause of death has not been revealed, according to the coroner’s office in Riverside County, California, TMZ confirmed.

From 1986 to 1991, Paragon appeared on the Emmy-nominated “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” as Jambi the Genie, whose painted blue face and ornamented red turban sat disembodied in a bedazzled box, which was prompted to open anytime Pee-wee Herman (Paul Ruebens) wanted too make a wish. And with each wish, Jambi would chant the iconic magic words: “Meka leka hi meka hiney ho.”

Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) and Jambi the Genie (John Paragon)
John Paragon played the blue-faced genie Jambi on “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.”
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Paragon also voiced the recurring character of Pterri the Pterodactyl — and when he wasn’t acting on “Playhouse” he was known to have written several episodes alongside Reubens, including the “Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Christmas Special” in 1988, which won the series an Emmy nomination for Best Writing in a Children’s Special.

Pee-wee Herman and Pterri the Pterodactyl on "Pee-wee's Playhouse."
John Paragon also voiced the puppet for Pterri the Pterodactyl on “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.”
©CBS/Courtesy Everett Collectio

Paragon also appeared in a number of films through the 1980s, including “The Frog Prince” (1986) and the cult cannibalism classic “Eating Raoul” (1982), and was later seen making cameos on “Seinfeld.”

Born in Anchorage, Alaska in 1954, Paragon got his big break as a member of the groundbreaking Groundlings Improv Group — and in recent years he “worked with Walt Disney Imagineering on ways to incorporate improvisational performance into attractions at Disney parks,” according to his official bio.

John Paragon applying make-up as Jambi the Genie
John Paragon had several writing credits for “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” earning him an Emmy nomination for Best Writing in a Children’s Special in 1988.
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John Paragon posed next to a painting of Jambi the Genie in 2014
John Paragon, seen here in 2014, had been working with Walt Disney Imagineering prior to his passing, to devise improv performances for Disney theme parks.
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