‘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

Dragon boaters being sought for a new team in Ladysmith

Men and women just need to bring along their enthusiasm and dedication

Police encourage the public to register their bicycles

It helps to have pictures, make and model in the recovery process from thefts

UPDATED with VIDEO and PHOTOS: One person treated for minor burns in Crofton fire Monday morning

Firefighters were called out at 7 a.m. to a blaze at the Twin Gables Motel

Public engagement on North Cowichan forest reserve begins this month

Consulting firm presents engagement plan at North Cowichan council meeting

SD79 finalizes $106-million budget for 2019-20

$2.1-million increase in revenue from previous year

VIDEO: Illicit drug overdoses killed 981 in B.C. in 2019, down 38%

Chief coroner says figures were down about a third in the province’s fourth year of the opioid crisis

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts senior care home

Summerland facility latest to have administrator appointed

RCMP pull office from Wet’suwet’en territory, but hereditary chiefs still want patrols to end

Chief says temporary closure of field office not enough as Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute drags on

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

Royals, Elvis, Captain Cook: Hundreds of wax figures find new life in B.C. man’s home

Former director of Victoria’s Royal London Wax Museum still hopes to revive wax figure tourism

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Okanagan man swims across Columbia River to evade Trail police

RCMP Cpl. Devon Reid says the incident began the evening of Thursday, Feb. 20

Most Read