On October 27, 1939, a legend of British comedy was born. John Cleese, the exceptionally tall member of Monty Python, is celebrating his 70s birthday today.
His birthday hits just as fans around the world are celebrating the 40th anniversary of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
Happy birthday, John! Remember to always look on the bright side of life.
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This contest is fueled by the following news: John Marwood Cleese (October 27, 1939, Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset, Great Britain) is an English actor, comedian, and a member of the British comedy group “Monty Python”.
John Marwood Cleese was born on October 27, 1939 in Weston-super-Mare, England, Great Britain. His father, Reginald Francis Cheese who worked as an insurance agent, changed his surname when he joined army (“cheese” - cheese).
John was the only son of elderly parents and therefore was pampered as a child. Any pranks and any hooliganisms of John were not observed in his childhood.
John completed St. Peter's Preparatory School and then spent five years at Clifton College. John worked as a Science teacher in his St. Peter's Preparatory School for two years waiting for his intake into Downing College.
Then this lanky (198 cm) mother's darling bent his steps in Cambridge University, studying in the faculty of law.
During that time, Cleese, by his own confession, was a “typical product of his bourgeois environment”. He supported the conservatives, wore brand-new suits, almost did not drink and did not indulge in drugs. Nevertheless, in the first year he became a member of the student's theatrical company the “Footlights Club” where met Michael Palin, Terry Johns, Graham Chapman and Eric Idle and some time later American Terry Gilliam.
For sometime, Cleese worked in the BBC and then once again joined the theatre group the “Cambridge Circus” and toured Broadway and New Zealand along with the group. John decided to stay back in the US for some time and even worked for the magazine “Help!” during his stay there where Terry Gilliam worked as an associate editor. Also, for a couple of months, Cleese very successfully wrote articles for the International Political section in “Newsweek”.
After that, he joined the “American Establishments Review” but soon returned back to London. Along with Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Terry Johns and Michael Palin , Cleese wrote for “The Frost Report”.
In 1968, John Cleese married American actress Connie Booth. Soon this company of young men organized the “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”, whose shows are very popular now around the globe.
In spite of working constantly in the comedy club, Cleese never thought of making an acting career. He took great interest in painting, archeology, literature, foreign languages (therefore, subsequently without great difficulty, Cleese could memorize the Lermentov’s lines in Russian, which he recited in “A Fish Called Wanda”). Even when the show “Monty Pyhton” was invited to the BBC, Cleese for a long time believed that he was only temporarily working as an actor. But after a couple of seasons, it became clear that “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” has come to stay and for a long time. And, Cleese, the “Cranky Gentleman” as he is called by Englishmen, became one of the brightest members of the show.
In the 1970s the troupe made its entry into cinema. The films “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, “Monty Python’s Life of Brian” and “Monty Python's The Meaning of Life” are today considered as classics in comedy-genre films.
In the mid 1980s the troupe disintegrated. In 1989, one of the founders of “Monty Python” Graham Chapman died and the reunion plans of the troupe were forgotten.
All the “Gentlemen-Hooligans” started solo careers. The comedy “A Fish called Wanda” (1988) became the culmination of a solo film career for Cleese. For this film, Cleese was nominated for an Oscar for the best Original Screenplay and a received BAFTA award as “Best Actor in a leading role”. Also for “A Fish called Wanda”, John Cleese received the Italian “David” award. But, attempts to repeat the success formula in the film “Fierce Creatures” (1997) were unsuccessful.
Then, John Cleese staked a claim for himself in a small but cushy job in one of the most popular serials in the history of cinema – “James Bond” films. Cleese replaced 85-year-old Desmond Llewelyn as the “Technical Gizmo Expert” and it can be assumed that John Cleese now has an easy job for the next 85 years.
Recently, Cleese demonstrated the sardonic “Monty Python” type humor in the comedy film “Rat Race”.
And now, John Cleese was offered a colorful role of a phantom by the nickname “Nearly Headless Nick” in the new film series of Harry Potter. Please keep in mind that the hero got this nickname not because he is a fool but because his head was not chopped-off fully! In the eccentric performance of Cleese, this role became a worthy continuation of the famous traditions of the troupe “Monty Python”.