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Monty Python as a group didn't last all that long, but the comedy troupe left an indelible mark on the history of comedy. The team hasn't been complete since we lost Graham Chapman in 1989, but the other members have always been there to remind us just how great Python was. But now we've lost another. Terry Jones, who had been battling dementia for years, has finally succumb to the degenerative illness. He was 77.
Terry Jones was never the biggest name in Monty Python. John Cleese was likely the most recognizable face in the group. Terry Gilliam has also had a successful post-Python career as a director. However, Terry Jones may have been the true soul of the group, and the most underrated member of the team. In addition to bringing to life countless memorable Python characters, he's also credited with writing many of the Python's most famous musical numbers in addition to all the comedy. He also directed the team's original films Monty Python and the Holy Grail (co-directed with Terry Gilliam), Monty Python's Life of Brian, and The Meaning of Life.
Terry Jones' Monty Python characters include Sir Bedevere from Holy Grail, the terribly overweight Mr. Creosote in Meaning of Life, and an incalcuable number of middle-aged English housewives from Flying Circus.
Terry Jones did just about everything over the course of his career. While he did a lot of work on various Monty Python retrospectives over the years, making him probably more responsible than anybody else for keeping the legacy of Python alive, he also had a successful career outside of the group. He wrote a series of documentaries in the early 2000s. Jones' knowledge of history, and his knowledge in general, was said to be considerable and he frequently impressed those who found themselves in conversation with him. He wrote the screenplay for Jim Henson's cult classic Labyrinth and even handled writing, directing, and starring in a rarely seen live-action adaptation of Disney's version of the Wind in the Willows, called Mr. toad's Wild Ride. He also wrote a collection of children's' books and even the novelization of Starship Titanic, an early CD-ROM video game created by Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams.
In 2014 it was revealed that Terry Jones was suffering from FTD, a rare form of dementia. In the end, it left him unable to speak as the degenerative illness impacted the brain's ability to use language. According to THR, it was known in advance that the accomplished actor was fading away, which allowed him to be surrounded by family friends until his passing last night.
Somehow it feels worse when the person we've lost is known for making us laugh. Terry Jones was an incredible comic talent who, as a member of Monty Python, and outside of the group, has inspired countless people. He will certainly missed by his family, but also by the fans he created from his body of work through the years.