Terry Jones, co-founder of comedy group Monty Python, has died at age of 77. His family stated that he passed “after a long, extremely brave but always good-humored battle with a rare form of dementia, FTD.”
Jones formed Monty Python with John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, Graham Chapman and Eric Idle in 1969. Prior to Monty Python, Jones and Palin performed and wrote together at Oxford University.
Jones and Monty Python
Through their use of satire and surrealism, Monty Python revolutionized the world of British comedy. Jones was particularly well-known for portraying the female characters in their sketch comedy show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus. He also played Brian’s mother in Life of Brian, which he also wrote and directed. One of Monty Python’s most famous quotes comes from Jones’ role in Life of Brian: “He’s not the Messiah. He’s a very naughty boy!”
Additionally, Jones directed The Meaning of Life and co-directed Monty Python and the Holy Grail with Gilliam—the film also marked his directorial debut.
After Monty Python, Jones worked on several projects, and also wrote the screenplay for Jim Henson’s film Labyrinth. In 2014, the five surviving members of Monty Python gathered for a few reunion shows—Graham Chapman passed away from cancer in 1989.
His Long-Fought Battle
In 2016, Jones was diagnosed with a form of dementia known as Frontotemporal Dementia, or FTD. This type comes from progressive nerve cell loss in the brain’s frontal lobes or its temporal lobes. This nerve cell damage can cause difficulty in speaking, moving or even comprehending language. Jones eventually lost his ability to both move and speak.
In 2016, Palin and Jones’ son, Bill, spoke on the comedian’s behalf when he was given a BAFTA Special Award for Outstanding Contribution to Film and Television.
Jones’ Monty Python group-mates, as well as fellow comedians, commented on his passing.
Palin described Jones as one of the funniest writer-performers of his generation, adding that he was “kind, generous, supportive and passionate about living life to the full.”
Gilliam went on to say how “one could never hope for a better friend” than him.
Jones is survived by his wife Anna and his children Bill, Sally and Siri. In their statement, they asked for privacy during this time that people “give thanks that we lived in the presence of an extraordinarily talented, playful and happy man living a truly authentic life, in his words ‘Lovingly frosted with glucose.'”