Terry Jones, the revered Monty Python co-founder who directed or co-directed three of the comedy team’s most beloved films, has died at age 77. He was diagnosed with a rare form of dementia, FTD, in 2016.
As The Guardian reports, Jones’ family offered a tribute to the Welsh actor, writer, comedian and filmmaker.
“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,” they said in a statement. “We have all lost a kind, funny, warm, creative and truly loving man whose uncompromising individuality, relentless intellect and extraordinary humor has given pleasure to countless millions across six decades.”
Jones was born in Colwyn, Bay, Wales, in 1942 and moved to England as a child. Studying English literature at Oxford University, he became friends with fellow student and future Python member Michael Palin while performing with comedy group the Oxford Revue. In the late ’60s, he found work writing and performing on a string of British TV comedies, including The Frost Report and Do Not Adjust Your Set.
He joined Palin, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman and animator Terry Gilliam to create the surreal sketch comedy show Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which ran on the BBC between 1969 and 1974. The Monty Python group also went on to create stage shows, musicals, books, comedy albums and a run of iconic movies. Jones co-directed 1975’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail with Gilliam, and he was the sole director on 1979’s Monty Python’s Life of Brian and 1983’s Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.
Outside of Monty Python, Jones worked as a writer, director and actor in numerous films and TV shows over the decades. His final directorial project, the 2015 sci-fi comedy Absolutely Anything, featured all of Python’s surviving members Cleese, Gilliam, Idle and Palin. (Chapman died in 1989.)
Following the news of Jones’ death, several of his collaborators and admirers expressed their condolences on social media. “Just heard about Terry J,” Cleese tweeted. “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.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, 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.”
“Thirty-six years ago I met Terry Jones. I was meant to interview him,” author Neil Gaiman tweeted. “I asked for tea, so he opened a bottle of Chablis and 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.”
Filmmaker Edgar Wright wrote, “A very fond farewell to Terry Jones: Not only 1/6 of the Pythons, Mr. Creosote, Arthur Two Sheds Jackson, Dino Vercotti, Mandy Cohen, Prince Herbert, Cardinal Biggles and the Nude Organist, but also esteemed director of all-time comedy classic Life of Brian. He will be missed.”
Stephen Fry, who participated in the Python crew’s 2014 stage show, tweeted, “Farewell, Terry Jones. The great foot has come down to stamp on you. My god, what pleasure you gave, what untrammeled joy and delight. What a wonderful talent, heart and mind.”