×

Terry Jones, Monty Python Co-Founder, Dies at 77

Terry Jones, co-founder of Monty Python, died Wednesday after a long struggle with dementia. He was 77.

Jones was instrumental in creating the wacky, absurdist style of comedy that Monty Python made famous in the 1970s and directed two of the English comedy group’s most successful films, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and “Monty Python’s Life of Brian.” In the latter, Jones played Mandy Cohen, mother of the titular Brian, and appeared before a crowd to deliver probably his most famous line in a comically squawky voice, “He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!”

He also wrote the screenplay for the 1986 cult classic “Labyrinth” starring David Bowie.

In 2004 Jones was nominated for an Emmy for his work on the BBC documentary series “Medieval Lives,” and in 1983 he was nominated for a BAFTA for best original song for “Every Sperm is Sacred” from “Monty Python’s the Meaning of Life.” In October 2016 Jones received a standing ovation as he was awarded the BAFTA Special Award for Outstanding Contribution to Film and Television. He was introduced at the ceremony by fellow Python Michael Palin, and Jones’ son spoke on his behalf because he was physically unable to make the speech.

Born in the seaside town of Colwyn Bay on the north coast of Wales, Jones’ acting career began when he started performing comedy with future Monty Python co-star Michael Palin while at Oxford University. The Python members formed while they all worked on the satirical BBC show “The Frost Report” before making their TV debut as a group with “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” a comedy sketch show which launched them to stardom.

Jones was mainly a writer and director for the troupe, letting Palin, John Cleese, Eric Idle and Graham Chapman take most of the lead roles in their films, but served as co-director with Terry Gilliam on the group’s first feature-length film “The Holy Grail.”

In the farcical medieval romp, Jones played Sir Bedevere, who is asked to put a woman on trial for being a witch. He devises a test to weigh her against a duck, using the logic that if their weight is equal then she must be able to float and therefore she is a witch. Sir Bedevere is knighted for his wise pronouncement.

“The Meaning Of Life” provided another iconic Jones character in the form of the enormously fat Mr. Creosote. In the iconic restaurant scene, Mr. Creosote orders plate after plate, vomiting occasionally on himself and the waiter. He ends up consuming so much food and becoming so fat that he bursts open, spewing vomit and guts all over the restaurant.

Later in the film, Jones plays a Catholic wife with 37 children and joins in with her husband’s rendition of “Every sperm is sacred,” a song making fun of the church’s opposition to contraception. Each of her offspring comes walking out of their front door in a hilariously long procession, which demonstrated Jones’ uncanny knack for comedic timing as a director.

More recently, Jones co-wrote the 2015 sci-fi comedy “Absolutely Anything,” starring Simon Pegg and the remaining members of Monty Python. Even though it received poor reviews, fans were delighted to see the Pythons reunited, and the film also featured the voice of Robin Williams in his final performance.

He also authored several books, both fiction and nonfiction.

Jones is survived by his wife Anna Soderstrom and their daughter Siri, as well as two children from his first wife, Sally and Bill Jones.

More TV

  • Tony Romo

    CBS Sports Re-Signs Tony Romo in Deal Valued Around $17 Million Per Year

    CBS Sports signed prize football analyst Tony Romo to a new deal, a major step in parent company ViacomCBS’ efforts to strike a new rights pact with the National Football League as its current contract heads toward the end of its term. CBS Sports said the company had signed Romo, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Writers Guild Says It Helped Negotiate 100 Deals for Agent-Less Members

    The Writers Guild of America has asserted that it has assisted in negotiating more than 100 deals in recent months for members without agents. The missive from the WGA West board of directors comes nearly a year after the guild leaders ordered their 15,000 members to fire their agents if the agents had not agreed [...]

  • Hilary Duff

    Hilary Duff Asks Disney to Move 'Lizzie McGuire' Revival to Hulu

    Hilary Duff has posted a statement asking that the planned revival of “Lizzie McGuire” be moved from Disney Plus to Hulu. “I’d be doing a disservice to everyone by limiting the realities of a 30 year old’s journey to live under the ceiling of a PG rating,” Duff wrote on Instagram. “It’s important to me [...]

  • Tan France Jameela Jamil

    TV News Roundup: Tan France, Jameela Jamil Among OZY Fest Headliners

    In today’s TV news roundup, OZY Media announced Tan France, Jameela Jamil and others as headliners of OZY Fest, and Netflix dropped the official trailer of “On My Block” Season 3. DATES Disney Channel‘s second season of “Just Roll With It” will premiere on Sunday, March 15 at 8:45 p.m. The sitcom follows the Bennett-Blatt family [...]

  • Lorraine Toussaint

    Queen Latifah's 'Equalizer' Reboot Pilot at CBS Casts Lorraine Toussaint

    Lorraine Toussaint has joined the CBS’ reboot pilot for “The Equalizer,” Variety has learned. She joins previously announced series lead Queen Latifah and recently announced cast member Liza Lapira. In the reimagined version, Queen Latifah stars as Robyn McCall, an enigmatic figure who uses her extensive skills to help those with nowhere else to turn. Toussaint [...]

  • Ben Schnetzer

    'Y: The Last Man' Series at FX Casts Ben Schnetzer as Yorick

    Ben Schnetzer has stepped into the role of Yorick Brown in FX’s upcoming “Y: The Last Man” series, Variety has learned. He takes over the role from Barry Keoghan, who exited the series at the beginning of this month. The show is based on Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s award-winning DC Comics graphic novel series [...]

  • Herb Dorfman Obit Dead

    Herb Dorfman, Orion Pictures Home Video Executive, Dies at 77

    Herb Dorfman, former Orion Pictures executive and a home video industry veteran, died Feb. 25 of complications from Parkinson’s disease and dementia. He was 77. Dorfman served as head of home entertainment for Orion Pictures from 1987 to late 1996. Orion was a prosperous independent studio in those days that turned out a steady stream [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content