John Dixon Paragon was born on an Army base in Anchorage, Alaska, but grew up and attended schools in Fort Collins, Colorado. He got his start in the Los Angeles-based improvisation group The Groundlings alongside Paul Reubens and Phil Hartman.
John is best known for his work on children’s show Pee-wee’s Playhouse, where he played Jambi the Genie and voiced Pterri the Pterodactyl. In addition to writing many of the regular season episodes of Pee-wee’s Playhouse, Paragon also co-wrote with Paul Reubens the acclaimed Pee-wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special in 1988, for which they were nominated an Emmy Award for Best Writing in a Children’s Special. John has also collaborated with fellow Groundling Cassandra Peterson (Elvira, Mistress of the Dark) on numerous projects, including the recurring role of The Breather, an annoying caller, for her first television series Movie Macabre on KHJ-TV-Los Angeles, and was co-writer on her 1988 feature film Elvira Mistress of the Dark.
Some of John’s other memorable roles include Cedric, one half of the gay couple Bob and Cedric on the television series Seinfeld; the title character in the children’s movie The Frog Prince; the sex shop salesman in the cult favorite Eating Raoul; and the owner of a Strip-o-gram business in the 1986 film Echo Park.
In recent years, Paragon has worked with Walt Disney Imagineering on ways to incorporate improvisational performance into attractions at Disney parks.
Paragon returned to his performance as Jambi the Genie in the Broadway outing of the new Pee-wee Herman stage show that began performances October 26, 2010 at the Stephen Sondheim Theater.