Terry Jones, one of the founding members of iconic British comedy troupe Monty Python, has died at age 77. According to the BBC, the veteran of the stage — and of the big screen — had been battling a rare form of dementia known as frontotemporal dementia (FTD) prior to passing away on January 21. Jones had been living with frontotemporal dementia since 2015 and publicly revealed his illness in 2016.
Born Terence Graham Parry in North Wales on February 1, 1942, he moved to Surrey at age 4. He attended Oxford University and graduated with a degree in history, though he also studied English literature. It was there that he met fellow Monty Python founder Michael Palin.
As reported in The Guardian, Palin recalled memories of his longtime friend and collaborator.
“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.”
Jones wrote and performed in many television shows for the BBC, including The Frost Report, Do Not Adjust Your Set, and The Complete and Utter History of Britain. In 1969, Jones and Palin joined with Graham Chapman and Terry Gilliam to create Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which aired until 1974 on BBC. It is said to be one of the most influential television shows in BBC history, often compared to having similar widespread cultural impact as the phenomenon that was the Beatles. Monty Python remains a part of pop culture in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
Jones was a natural in the director’s chair, and his first film was Monty Python and the Holy Grail. He went on to guide Monty Python’s Life of Brian as a solo director. In 1983, Jones directed The Meaning of Life, and the 2015 film Absolutely Anything was his final directing credit.
Jones was well known for dressing in female attire for many roles, also having made a name for himself as a respected writer of children’s books.
Jones was married twice, first to biochemist Alison Telfer — from 1970 to 2012 — and to Anna Söderström in 2012. Jones has three children, two with Telfer and one with Söderström. His wife was by his side when he passed.
“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,” Jones’ agent said in a statement on behalf of the family. “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.”