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Terry Jones (Photo by David Levenson / Getty Images)

Monty Python star Terry Jones dies at 77

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Jan 23, 2020, 10:35 AM EST (Updated)

Terry Jones, one of the founders of the British comedy group Monty Python's Flying Circus, has died, CNN is reporting. He was 77. 

The writer, actor, comedian, and historian died on Saturday evening with his wife, Anna Soderstrom, by his side. Jones had been battling primary progressive aphasia, a rare form of dementia that affects speech. 

"Over the past few days his wife, children, extended family, and many close friends have been constantly with Terry as he gently slipped away at his home in North London," his family said in a statement published by the news outlet. 

Born February 1, 1942, in Colwyn Bay, Wales, Jones attended Oxford University, where he met Michael Palin in the student comedy group the Oxford Revue. The two went on to write and perform for such British television shows as Do Not Adjust Your Set and The Frost Report before forming the comedy group Monty Python with John Cleese, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, and Terry Gilliam.

As part of Monty Python, the group created the surreal sketch comedy series Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which ran for 45 episodes over four seasons from 1969 to 1974. In addition to the series, Jones directed the films Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979) and Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983). He co-directed Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) with Gilliam. 

The six members of the Monty Python team, 1969. Left to right: Terry Jones, Graham Chapman (1941 - 1989), John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

After the group disbanded, Jones wrote several historical nonfiction books, hosted documentaries, and wrote the 1986 fantasy film Labyrinth, starring David Bowie.

Actor and comedian Stephen Fry paid tribute to his friend in a tweet posted on Wednesday: "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."

Writer Neil Gaiman posted a picture of himself with Jones on social media, along with this message: "36 years ago I met Terry Jones. I was meant to interview him. I asked for tea, so he opened a bottle of Chablis & got me drunk. He was funny, brilliant and honest. He was irrepressible and is seen here repressing the very young me. Rest in Peace, Terry. You were an inspiration."

His fellow Monty Python members also took to social media to pay their respects.

"Just heard about Terry J," wrote Cleese on Twitter. "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."

"I loved him the moment I saw him on stage at the Edinburgh Festival in 1963," tweeted Idle. "So many laughs,moments of total hilarity onstage and off we have all shared with him. It’s too sad if you knew him,but if you didn’t you will always smile at the many wonderfully funny moments he gave us."

Gilliam wrote in a two-part tweet: "HE WAS A VERY NAUGHTY BOY!!...and we miss you. Terry was someone totally consumed with life.. a brilliant, constantly questioning, iconoclastic, righteously argumentative and angry but outrageously funny and generous and kind human being ... and very often a complete pain in the ass. One could never hope for a better friend. Goodbye, Tel."

And PA Media is quoting Palin as saying: "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 has also conducted a couple quite touching interviews (one in which he tears up) reminiscing about his friendship with Jones.

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