‘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

Centre withdraws from cell tower project in Qualicum Beach

TELUS plans to continue to look at plans to improve cellphone reception in the area

Qualicum Beach council voices support for Ballenas track upgrade

Town still not ready to provide dollar amount without further information

Resident discovers five discarded hog heads in a ditch in Coombs

WARNING: Graphic image may be upsetting to some readers

RDN budget includes unexpected $1.5 million for sewer pipe replacement

Pipe corrosion at Departure Bay discovered in December

People tab ‘Roaring ’20s’ as theme for Parksville sand sculpting competition

‘Topsy Turvy’ and ‘Celebrate!’ also considered for 2020 beach festival event

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

UPDATE: Lockdown lifted at Nanaimo high school following threats

Nearby elementary school was in hold-and-secure

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Suspect steals seaplane, crashes into another in Vancouver habour

Police responded to the incident at 3:30 a.m. on Friday

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

Shopping cart collector at B.C. Costco awarded $583,000 after getting pinned by car

Kurtis Ryan Burdeniuk, 22, was retrieving carts when a driver backed into him in the parking lot

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

Most Read