Pee-Wee Herman (born Paul Reubens) is speaking out following the death of Pee-Wee's Playhouse co-star John Paragon. The comedian left a heartfelt message on his website regarding the loss of his friend, who played Jambi the genie. "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," Herman wrote.
"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," he continued. "We felt magical together, and I think sometimes that translated into the work we created." Paragon died in April, but his death was recently reported in June by The Groundlings. The cause of death remains unknown. He was 66 years old.
"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,'" he recalled. Thus, creating the iconic character. Paragon was a feature on the show, reoccurring as Jambi the genie between 1986-1990. He went on to direct and write several episodes of the series. He earned an Emmy nomination for Best Writing in a Children's Special for his work on Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special. He shares the nomination with Paul Reubens.
"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," Herman added. "Rest In Peace, John. I was lucky to know you so deeply. Mekka Lekka Hi, Mekka Hiney Ho, John. Long live Jambi," he closed.
Last year, Reubens detailed how the comedic duo began their work relationship for The Hollywood Reporter. "The really big thing at the time was conceptual art, performance art, that kind of stuff," he explained. "Me and Phil Hartman and John Paragon, who was Jambi the Genie, we were the three male ‘stars’ at The Groundlings. We would sit in my car in the parking lot and fantasize and talk about what it would be like to be working actors."