, the star of "Pee-wee's Playhouse," passed away at the age of 66.
3, the actor best known for his role as the blue-faced Jambi the Genie on the children
's TV show died at his Palm Springs, California
According to coroner Chad Bianco, the cause of death
was “atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease with other significant conditions of chronic alcohol abuse,” according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Born in Anchorage, Alaska
, in 1954, Paragon got his first taste of the entertainment
industry in the 1970s as a member of the Los Angeles-based improv group The Groundlings.
Paragon co-starred in "The Pee-wee Herman Show" in 1981 with fellow Groundling Paul Reubens, and then in "Pee-wee's Playhouse" from 1986 to 1990.
Paragon had a recurring role as Cedric on "Seinfeld" and appeared in "UHF," "Cheers," "The Elvira Show," and "Elvira's Movie Macabre" among his 46 acting credits.
In a lengthy statement posted on his website on Friday, Reubens (aka Pee-wee Herman) paid tribute to his former collaborator, describing Paragon as "sly and wickedly funny
" and crediting him with "so heavily contributing to my success."
“From the time we were both starting out, through my success and fame as Pee-wee Herman, John was my closest friend,” he wrote. “Throughout 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.”
I met John Paragon, Jambi the genie on Pee-wee's Playhouse, at the improv comedy
group The @Groundlings, where both of our careers began, and we instantly became best friends
pic.twitter.com/ewS8xpCIva — Pee-wee Herman (@peeweeherman) June 18, 2021
Other friends, fans
, and former coworkers paid their respects to the actor as well:
John Paragon, my writing partner of 27 years...my friend, my brother, my soul-mate. I will miss and love you forever, Johnny #RIPJohnParagon pic.twitter.com/ajz0nhIXLs — Elvira (@TheRealElvira) June 18, 2021
Ramon Azteca, Jambi the Genie, Mr. Excitement, The Breather, The Paragon of Comedy, Groundling, improviser, writer
, performer, producer he did it all - and brilliantly. https://t.co/caRuNXBtz3
John Paragon, rest in peace https://t.co/cUo4jXMYPm
— The Groundlings (@groundlings) June 18, 2021
I was fortunate to have done a gig with John Paragon awhile ago where he proved to be gracious and tolerant of my nerdy questions. Rest well, thanks for the magic. pic.twitter.com/pAU3VWlHve — Michael Varrati (@MichaelVarrati) June 17, 2021
Yesterday, it was announced that John Paragon, who played Jambi The Genie on Pee Wee's Playhouse, had passed away. John was a brilliant actor, writer, and director who will be greatly missed. Here's one of my favorite Paragon sketches. So good... https://t.co/ueGoADwaJ7
— Dana Gould (@danagould) June 18, 2021