RIP: Terry Jones From Monty Python’s Flying Circus


NEW YORK TIMES: Terry Jones, who earned a spot in comedic lore as a member of the British troupe Monty Python and also had success as a director, screenwriter and author, died on Tuesday night at his home in the Highgate neighborhood of North London. He was 77. His ex-wife, Alison Telfer, confirmed the death. Mr. Jones announced in 2016 that he had primary progressive aphasia, a neurological disease that impairs the ability to communicate.

Mr. Jones, four other Britons — Michael Palin, Eric Idle, John Cleese and Graham Chapman — and an American, Terry Gilliam, formed Monty Python in 1969. Their television sketch show, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” became a phenomenon, first in Britain and then in the United States when it was rebroadcast there in the mid-1970s. The show worked a surreal brand of humor that was markedly different from most television fare. It led to “And Now for Something Completely Different,” a 1971 movie that was essentially a collection of skits from the TV show, and then several other feature films.

Mr. Jones and Mr. Gilliam jointly directed the first film after “Something Completely Different,” “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975), and teamed up again on “Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life” (1983). Mr. Jones was the sole director of “Monty Python’s Life of Brian” (1979), the most successful financially. He also directed his own projects. And he was an author, both of scholarly fare like “Chaucer’s Knight” (1980), an alternative view of a character from “The Canterbury Tales,” and of books for children. The Boston Globe once called him “a warped Renaissance man.”

He was a Renaissance man of sorts on “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” as well. The many characters he played included an organist who tended not to wear clothes, a fellow known as the Amazing Mystico who could build buildings by hypnosis, and an assortment of middle-aged women. “The one thing we all agreed on, our chief aim, was to be totally unpredictable and never to repeat ourselves,” Mr. Jones deadpanned to The New York Times in 2009, when the group had a rare reunion at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York. “We wanted to be unquantifiable. That ‘pythonesque’ is now an adjective in the O.E.D. means we failed utterly.” MORE