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Terry Jones Dies: UK Comedy Legend & ‘Monty Python’ Co-Founder Was 77

Deadline — Tom Grater

Terry Jones, the co-founder of iconic UK comedy troupe Monty Python and a celebrated author and actor, has died at the age of 77, his agent confirmed to the BBC.

Jones was diagnosed with dementia in 2015, which impaired his ability to communicate. In a 2017 interview, fellow Python member Michael Palin disclosed that Jones had become unable to speak.

Speaking to the PA Media news agency today, Palin described Jones as “kind, generous, supportive and passionate about living life to the full.”

“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,” he added.

Another former Python, John Cleese, added today: “It feels strange that a man of so many talents and such endless enthusiasm, should have faded so gently away… Two down, four to go.”

Born in Wales, Jones attended Oxford University in the 1960s, meeting Palin there. After graduating he worked on various UK comedy series, including satirical show The Frost Report, where he encountered Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, and John Cleese.

Subsequently, the group joined forces with animator Terry Gilliam and worked together on the surrealistic sketch series Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which became a hit and aired for 45 episodes between 1969 and 1974.

The Python gang also produced five films, starting with the relatively unsuccessful And Now for Something Completely Different, which was produced in 1971 and consisted of re-shot sketches from Flying Circus, and then the much more well-received Holy Grail (1975), Life Of Brian (1979), The Meaning Of Life (1983), and the recorded performance Live At The Hollywood Bowl (1982). As well as starring, Jones also directed The Meaning Of Life, Life Of Brain, and Holy Grail.

Among his memorable performances were the over-stuffed Mr Creosote in The Meaning Of Life, and numerous of Python’s middle-aged female characters.

After Python, Jones worked on a wide variety of projects for screen and stage, both writing and directing, became an avid historian and presenter, wrote close to 20 children’s books, and penned regular opinion pieces for UK newspapers, including being a vocal critic of the War on Terror.

In 2016, he was given a Lifetime Achievement award at the BAFTA Cymru Awards (the Welsh BAFTAs) for his contribution to television and film.

Jones was married twice and had three children.

His family sent a statement to the BBC which read: “We are deeply saddened to have to announce the passing of beloved husband and father, Terry Jones. Over the past few days his wife, children, extended family and many close friends have been constantly with Terry as he gently slipped away at his home in north London.

“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.

“His work with Monty Python, his books, films, television programmes, poems and other work will live on forever, a fitting legacy to a true polymath.

“We hope that this disease will one day be eradicated entirely. We ask that our privacy be respected at this sensitive time and give thanks that we lived in the presence of an extraordinarily talented, playful and happy man living a truly authentic life, in his words ‘Lovingly frosted with glucose.'”

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