Terry Jones, a Python and a Scholar, Is Dead at 77

Terry Jones, a Python and a Scholar, Is Dead at 77


The popularity of the show soon made “pythonesque” an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary.

“The one thing we all agreed on, our chief aim, was to be totally unpredictable and never to repeat ourselves,” Mr. Jones deadpanned to The New York Times in 2009, when the group had a rare reunion at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York. “We wanted to be unquantifiable. That ‘pythonesque’ is now an adjective in the O.E.D. means we failed utterly.”

Terence Graham Parry Jones was born in Colwyn Bay, North Wales, on Feb. 1, 1942, “right bang slap in the middle of World War II,” as he put it in “The Pythons Autobiography,” a 2003 book by the troupe with Bob McCabe. His father, Alick, was a banker by profession but was in the Royal Air Force at the time and stationed in Scotland.

“I suppose they must have been guarding the grouse,” he wrote, “although he used to say later that they were testing out this newfangled stuff called RADAR. He came and saw me when I was a week old, and was immediately posted to India. I would be 4 before he saw me again.”

When he was 5 the family moved to Claygate, in the London suburbs. A favorite among the radio offerings he listened to was “The Goon Show,” a comedy program that often veered into offbeat territory and had a cast that included Peter Sellers.

“It was the surreality of the imagery and the speed of the comedy that I loved,” he wrote in the “Pythons” book, “the way they broke up the conventions of radio and played with the very nature of the medium.”

That, of course, was what Monty Python did with television, but Mr. Jones’s aspirations were yet to crystallize. He did think early on that it would be nice to be an actor, but Royal Grammar School, Guildford, which he attended, was not a place to encourage such things.



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