‘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

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Interior Health reports three additional COVID-19 cases in region

The number of cases in the region since the beginning of the pandemic are now at 492

COVID-19 minimizes Okanagan Regional Library budget increase

Library adapts to pandemic fiscal disruptions

Interior Health continues to tackle COVID-19

IH president Susan Brown says don’t become complacent about pandemic

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Squabble over mask policy at LUSH in Kelowna mall

The woman filmed the encounter at LUSH Cosmetics, where wearing a mask in-store is company policy

Cops For Kids ride wraps in Okanagan

No pomp, no circumstance for end of milestone 20th anniversary fundraising bicycle trip

Former Kelowna cop faces fourth lawsuit alleging sexual assault

Ex-Mountie Brian Mathew Burkett is also separately facing seven charges of breach of trust

Province opens ‘middle income’ housing in Kelowna

Prices on the units are $1,300 for a one-bedroom and $1,780 for a two-bedroom, nearing area-average prices

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Reward offered for return of Okanagan puppy

An 11-week-old boxer-mastiff cross pup was allegedly taken from its Kelowna Friday, Sept. 18

Most Read