John Cleese pays tribute to Python star Terry Jones

January 22, 2020

Monty Python star Terry Jones has died at the age of 77, his agent has said.

The Welsh actor was one of the six members of Monty Python - a group described as the "Beatles of comedy".

Jones' death was confirmed in a family statement, which said he had passed away on the evening of 21 January at his home in north London with his wife Anna Soderstrom by his side.

It said he had been fighting "a long, extremely brave but always good humoured battle with a rare form of dementia".

It was announced that he was suffering from the progressive disease in 2016. It primarily affected his ability to communicate.

He is said to have "gently slipped away" after spending the last few days in the constant company of his wife, children, extended family and many close friends.

The statement went on: "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."

His family thanked the nurses, doctors and carers who had helped Jones over the last few years, saying they had made life "not only bearable but often joyful".

They went on to say they hoped dementia would one day be "eradicated entirely".

The statement concluded by giving 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'".

Jones became a household name thanks to Monty Python - a surreal comedy group which he created along with Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle and Michael Palin.

Jones is largely credited with coming up with the surreal structure of the show, which didn't comply to the normal joke set-up, premise and punch line formula.

Their TV sketch show - Monty Python's Flying Circus - first aired in 1969, running for four series and 45 episodes over five years.

Cleese tweeted: "Just heard about Terry J. It feels strange that a man of so many talents and such endless enthusiasm, should have faded so gently away...

"Of his many achievements, for me the greatest gift he gave us all was his direction of 'Life of Brian'. Perfection

Two down, four to go".

His tally is in reference to the remaining four members of Monty Python. Graham Chapman died of cancer in 1989

Palin said Jones was a "kind, generous, supportive and passionate about living life to the full".

Stephen Fry paid tribute on Twitter, referring to the irreverent animations which appeared throughout Monty Python's Flying Circus: "Farewell, Terry Jones. The great foot has come down to stamp on you. My god what pleasure you gave, what untrammelled joy and delight. What a wonderful talent, heart and mind".

Jones was born in Colwyn Bay on the north coast of Wales, before moving to Surrey as a toddler.

He went on to study English at Oxford, where he met Palin. The two later formed the Python troop with Cambridge graduates Chapman, Cleese and Idle, and American animator Gilliam.

As well as co-writing and staring in the Python TV shows, Jones also directed two of their films - Monty Python And The Holy Grail and The Meaning Of Life.

In Life Of Brian, Jones played Mandy, the mother of a hapless man mistaken for Jesus. His line: "He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy!" is now an internationally recognised catchphrase.

Despite being described as "foul, disgusting and blasphemous" activist Mary Whitehouse at the time, the movie has since been voted the funniest classic comedy in a poll compiled by the magazine Total Film.

Often the Python called upon to dress up in drag in his roles, his other much-loved characters included Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson, Cardinal Biggles of the Spanish Inquisition and Mr Creosote, the monstrously obese restaurant patron.

Outside of Python he played Mr Toad in 1996 film The Wind In The Willows, which also starred Idle as Rat, Cleese as Mr Toad's Lawyer and Palin as The Sun.

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