Monty Python Co-Founder And Comedy Legend Terry Jones Dead At 77

Another comedy legend has passed. Terry Jones, a founding member of the Monty Python troupe and a renowned comedian, screenwriter, filmmaker, poet, historian, and author, has died at age 77.

Terry Jones died Tuesday evening in his North London home, his agent confirmed to the BBC. The poet and former Python had been suffering from dementia, which had been publicly revealed by his son, Bill, in September 2016, rendering him unable to speak.

"We are deeply saddened to have to announce the passing of beloved husband and father, Terry Jones," his family said in a statement, which continues:

"Terry passed away on the evening of 21 January 2020 at the age of 77 with his wife Anna Soderstrom by his side after a long, extremely brave but always good humoured battle with a rare form of dementia, FTD. 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. 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."

Jones was a pivotal member of the Monty Python comedy troupe, co-founding the group alongside Michael PalinEric IdleJohn CleeseGraham Chapman and Terry Gilliam in 1969, and going on to direct two of the group's iconic feature films, Life of Brian and Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. He co-directed Monty Python and the Holy Grail with Gilliam.

Born in North Wales, England, Jones studied English at Oxford University, where he met his long-term collaborator and future fellow Python, Michael Palin. The two would star together in the college's comedy troupe The Oxford Revue, and appeared in the 1967 sketch comedy show Twice a Fortnight after graduation. Jones and Palin worked as a comedy duo for a few years before they were introduced to fellow comic Eric Idle, who had starred alongside John Cleese and Graham Chapman in Cambridge University theatrical productions. The five of them — along with Gilliam, whom Cleese had met in New York — would unite their comedic talents to launch Monty Python's Flying Circus in 1969, which ran for four seasons and became a British comedy staple.

Jones would keep directing away from the Pythons, helming the comedy Personal Services (1987), Erik the Viking (1989), and The Wind in the Willows (1996), before eventually returning to TV for episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles on ABC and the British comedy series, Ripping Yarns, which he co-created with Palin. Jones also became a prolific children's author, publishing 20 fiction novels between 1981 and 2002. His Fairy Tales was named one of Children's Laureate Michael Rosen's five best children's stories of all time, and The Saga of Erik the Viking would become the basis for the film that Jones helmed. Jones also wrote the first draft for Jim Henson's Labyrinth and received sole screenwriting credit despite several rewrites. Not to be limited by the titles of comedian, filmmaker, writer, and Python, Jones was also a noted scholar of medieval and ancient history, writing several nonfiction books and presenting shows on British TV on the subject.

Jones is survived by his second wife, Anna Soderstrom, and their daughter Siri, who was born in 2009, alongside his two children from his first marriage.