Monty Python co-founder Terry Jones has died at the of 77.
Jones passed away on Tuesday, January 21st, due to complications from dementia. The comedy legend was diagnosed with a rare form of the disease in 2016.
“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. “We have all lost a kind, funny, warm, creative and truly loving man whose uncompromising individuality, relentless intellect and extraordinary humour has given pleasure to countless millions across six decades.”
While a student at Oxford University in the early 1960s, Jones met future Monty Python collaborator Michael Palin. The two quickly formed a creative partnership, first starring in the 1967 sketch comedy Twice a Fortnight before creating their own series, The Complete and Utter History of Britain, in 1969.
In 1969, Jones and Palin also linked up with fellow comics Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, John Cleese, and Graham Chapman for the BBC series Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The surreal sketch comedy ran for four series between 1969 and 1974 and proved a massive success in both the group’s native UK as well as in America. The series spawned three feature-length films, beginning with 1975’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which Jones co-directed with Gilliam. Jones then himself directed 1979’s Life of Brian and 1989’s The Meaning of Life.
Beyond his writing and directing contributions to Monty Python, Jones also delivered several memorable on-screen performances. Most notably, while playing a middle-aged housewife in Life of Brian, he famously uttered the line, “He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!” He also played a member of the Knights who say “Ni!” in The Holy Grail.
Outside of Monty Python, Jones wrote an initial draft of David Bowie’s 1986 film Labyrinth. He’s also remembered as a prolific author, who published 20 children’s novels in addition to several non-fiction books about medieval and ancient history.
In his later years, Jones co-directed a documentary on Monty Python co-founder Graham Chapman, and helmed 2014’s Absolutely Anything, which reunited Palin, Gilliam, Cleese, and Idle together for the first time since The Meaning of Line. (Absolutely Anything also marked Robin Williams’ final on-screen performance.) Also in 2014, Jones reunited with the rest of Monty Python for a series of live performances at London’s O2 Arena.