LONDON (Reuters) – Terry Jones, one of the British Monty Python comedy team, has died at the age of 77 after a long battle with dementia, his family said on Wednesday.
FILE PHOTO: British comedian Terry Jones smiles as he leaves The Rolls Building in central London November 30, 2012. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett//File Photo
Born in Wales in 1942, Jones was also a film director, historian and poet. He had been diagnosed in 2015 with a rare form of dementia, FTD.
Jones was one of the creators of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the British TV show that rewrote the rules of comedy with surreal sketches, characters and catchphrases, in 1969.
He co-directed the team’s first film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” with fellow Python Terry Gilliam, and directed the subsequent “Life of Brian” and “The Meaning of Life.”
Python Michael Palin, who met Jones at Oxford University, said he was “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.”
His family said his work with Monty Python, books, films, television programmes, poems and other work “will live on forever, a fitting legacy to a true polymath”.
Jones wrote comedy sketches with Palin in the 1960s before the they teamed up with Cambridge graduates Eric Idle, John Cleese and Graham Chapman and U.S. film-maker Terry Gilliam to create Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which aired on BBC television between 1969 and 1974.
One of Jones’ best-known roles in Monty Python was that of Brian’s mother in “The Life of Brian” released in 1979, who screeched at worshippers from an open window: “He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy”.
Another was the hugely obese Mr Creosote who exploded in a restaurant at the end of a huge meal after eating a “wafer-thin mint”.
Jones made an emotional public appearance in 2016 when, just weeks after revealing his diagnosis with dementia, he received a Bafta Cymru award for his outstanding contribution to film and television, which was presented by Palin.
His son, who helped Jones to the stage, fought back tears as he spoke on his father’s behalf to accept the award.
Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft, Paul Sandle and Kate Holton; editing by Stephen Addison