The recent news of John Paragon’s death has saddened many fans, and the late actor’s old friends and frequent collaborators Pee-wee Herman and Elvira are among those paying tribute. Paragon, who was perhaps best known as Jambi the Genie on Pee-wee’s Playhouse, had met Paul “Pee-wee Herman” Reubens early into their careers as members of the comedy group The Groundlings. Cassandra “Elvira” Peterson was also a part of the group, and Paragon had often worked with her as well.
Taking to Facebook after Paragon’s death, Paul Reubens posted an image from behind the scenes of Pee-wee’s Playhouse of the actor in his Jambi makeup. The Pee-wee Herman actor also wrote a lengthy message remembering when he first met Paragon along with all the memories they would proceed to create together over the next several years. From the Facebook post:
“I met John Paragon, Jambi the genie on Pee-wee’s Playhouse, at the improvisational comedy group The Groundlings, where both our careers started. He was sly and wickedly funny. We became best friends instantly. In a group of exceptionally talented and funny people, he stuck out. Stood out. He contributed so heavily to my success. 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.”
Reubens goes on to explain how the Jambi character was created and recalled how the late actor was there every step of the way through all of the Pee-wee Herman success.
“When |The Pee-wee Herman Show was born, John had an idea about being a magic genie. 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’. From the time we were both starting out, through my success and fame as Pee-wee Herman, John was my closest friend. And through all of those years, we had huge amounts of fun and laughed our asses off together. I really loved him. Rest In Peace, John. I was lucky to know you so deeply. Mekka Lekka Hi, Mekka Hiney Ho, John. Long live Jambi.”
Paragon had also often collaborated with Cassandra “Elvira” Peterson, which includes playing “The Breather” on the legendary horror host’s very first TV series. The actor also played the gas station attendant in her movie Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, which he co-wrote with Elvira and Sam Egan. Peterson and Paragon later co-wrote the follow-up movie Elvira’s Haunted Hills, and Paragon served as a writer for Peterson’s Hulu series 13 Nights of Elvira in 2014.
On Facebook, Peterson similarly posted a message of tribute for Paragon. She included an image of herself embracing the late actor and wrote a message honoring her close friend and longtime collaborator. The post reads:
“I lost someone who meant the world to me and was such a huge part of ‘Elvira’ and my life that it’s impossible to express how sad I feel. John Paragon, my writing partner of 27 years…my friend, my brother, my soul-mate. I will miss you and love you forever, Johnny.”
Rest in peace, John Paragon. It’s more clear than ever just how much he was loved and will be forever missed by those who knew him as well as his fans. This information comes to us from the Facebook pages for Pee-wee Herman as well as the Mistress of the Dark, Elvira.