‘Naughty boy’: Monty Python star Terry Jones dies at 77

The comedian has been suffering from a rare form of dementia

n this Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009 file photo from left, actors Michael Palin, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle attend the IFC and BAFTA premiere of “Monty Python: Almost The Truth (The Lawyers Cut)”, in New York. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer, File)

Terry Jones, a founding member of the anarchic Monty Python troupe who was hailed by colleagues as “the complete Renaissance comedian” and “a man of endless enthusiasms,” has died at age 77 after suffering from dementia.

Jones’s family said he died Tuesday evening at his home in London “after a long, extremely brave but always good humoured battle with a rare form of dementia.”

“We have all lost a kind, funny, warm, creative and truly loving man whose uncompromising individuality, relentless intellect and extraordinary humour has given pleasure to countless millions across six decades,” Jones’s wife, Anna Soderstrom, and children Bill, Sally and Siri, said in a statement.

Born in Wales in 1942, Jones attended Oxford University, where he began writing and performing with fellow student Michael Palin.

After leaving university, he wrote for seminal 1960s comedy series, including “The Frost Report” and “Do Not Adjust Your Set.” At the end of the decade he and Palin, along with Eric Idle, John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Terry Gilliam, formed Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The troupe’s irreverent humour — a blend of satire, surrealism and silliness — helped revolutionize British comedy.

“Terry was one of my closest, most valued friends. He was kind, generous, supportive and passionate about living life to the full,” Palin said in a statement.

“He was far more than one of the funniest writer-performers of his generation. He was the complete Renaissance comedian — writer, director, presenter, historian, brilliant children’s author, and the warmest, most wonderful company you could wish to have,” Palin said.

Jones wrote and performed for the troupe’s TV series, which aired for five years on the BBC, and films including “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” in 1975 and “Monty Python’s Life of Brian” in 1979.

Playing the mother of Brian, a hapless young man who is mistaken for Jesus, he delivered one of the Pythons’ most famous lines: “He’s not the Messiah. He’s a very naughty boy!”

A more understated presence than the 6-foot-five-inch (1.95 metres) Cleese or the energetic Idle, Jones was a deft comic performer, who played many of the Pythons’ female characters. He was also, among many other incarnations, a grinning nude organist, Spanish Inquisitor Cardinal Biggles and the explosively gluttonous restaurant patron Mr. Creosote.

Cleese tweeted: “It feels strange that a man of so many talents and such endless enthusiasm, should have faded so gently away…”

He added: “Two down, four to go,” a reference to the six members of the troupe. Chapman died of cancer in 1989.

As well as performing, Jones co-directed “Holy Grail” with Gilliam, and directed “Life of Brian” and the 1983 Python film “The Meaning of Life.”

“Life of Brian” was considered daring — and was even banned in some areas — for its biblical satire. The film’s crucifixion scene, which featured Idle performing the cheeky song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” cemented Jones’ reputation as a daring director with an absurdist sense of humour.

Jones is survived by his wife, his ex-wife Alison Telfer, and three children.

READ MORE: Neil Peart, Rush drummer, dies at 67

The Associated Press

Movies

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

160 new COVID-19 cases reported in Alberta on Tuesday

Province now has 1,571 active cases

Teams from across Central Alberta come to Rimbey’s Kevin Hopper Memorial Rodeo

The Rodeo was held at Rimbey’s Agrim Centre on Sept. 12

Return to class has gone better than expectation, WCPS says

Staff with Wolf Creek Public Schools say the return to in-class teaching has gone very well

Central zone down to 16 active COVID-19 cases

Alberta Health Services’ central zone is down to 16

No safe mask option for bearded members, RCMP says, but force is exploring solutions

RCMP says respirator not mandatory in all front-line situations, but sometimes needed to reduce risk

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

CP Holiday Train cancelled this year; virtual concert to be held in lieu of event

Canadian Pacific will still donate to local food banks in its network and host a virtual concert.

Survey finds doctors worry supplies of flu vaccine, PPE will lag demand

Canadian health officials have said additional flu vaccines have been ordered to meet expected demand

Ahead of likely second wave, 60% of Canadians relaxing COVID-19 measures

Proportion of Canadians following safety measures has dropped by 3 per cent in the past two weeks

Canada’s population tops 38 million, even as COVID-19 pandemic slows growth

Immigration, the top population driver, decreased due to the pandemic

Lightning strike: Tampa Bay blanks Dallas 2-0 to win Stanley Cup

Hedman wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

Liberals seek to fast track new COVID-19 aid bill after CERB expires

Government secured NDP support for legislation by hiking amount of benefits by $100 to $500 per week

‘Worst of the worse cases:’ Alberta horse owners on alert for outbreak of fever

An outbreak of the Potomac horse fever has been declared in Alberta

Most Read