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Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset, England
Claim to Fame
Monty Python, Fawlty Towers
Writer, Actor/Actress, Producer
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Profile Bio Text
John Cleese was born on October 27, 1939, in Weston-Super-Mare, England. He was born into a family of modest means, his father being an insurance salesman, but he was nonetheless sent off to private schools to obtain a good education. Here he was often tormented for his height, having reached a height of six feet by the age of twelve, and eventually discovered that being humorous could deflect aggressive behavior in others. He loved humor in and of itself, collected jokes, and, like many young Britons who would grow up to be comedians, was devoted to the radio comedy show, "The Goon Show," starring the legendary Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, and Harry Secombe.
Cleese did well in both sports and academics, but his real love was comedy. He attended Cambridge to read (study) Law, but devoted a great deal of time to the university`s legendary Footlights group, writing and performing in comedy reviews, often in collaboration with future fellow Python Graham Chapman. Several of these comedy reviews met with great success, including one in particular which toured under the name "Cambridge Circus." When Cleese graduated, he went on to write for the BBC, then rejoined Cambridge Circus in 1964, which toured New Zealand and America. He remained in America after leaving Cambridge Circus, performing and doing a little journalism, and here met Terry Gilliam, another future Python.
Returning to England, he began appearing in a BBC radio series, "I`m Sorry I`ll Read That Again", based on Cambridge Circus. It ran for several years and also starred future `Goodies` Tim Brooke-Taylor, Bill Oddie and Graeme Garden. He also appeared, briefly, with Brooke-Taylor, Chapman & Marty Feldman in "At Last the 1948 Show" (1967), for television, and a series of collaborations with some of the finest comedy-writing talent in England at the time, some of whom - Eric Idle, Gilliam, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, and Chapman - eventually joined him in Monty Python. These programs included "The Frost Report" (1966) and Marty Feldman`s program _"Marty" (1966)_. Eventually, however, the writers were themselves collected to be the talent for their own program, "Monty Python`s Flying Circus" (1969), which was originally to be a vehicle for Cleese but soon showed itself to be an ensemble program. Monty Python displayed a strange and completely absorbing blend of low farce and high-concept absurdist humor, and remains influential to this day.
After three seasons of the intensity of Monty Python, Cleese left the show, though he collaborated with one or more of the other Pythons for decades to come, including the Python movies released in the mid-70s to early 80s - Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), Life of Brian (1979), Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982), and The Meaning of Life (1983). Cleese and then-wife Connie Booth collaborated in the legendary television series "Fawlty Towers" (1975), as the sharp-tongued, rude, bumbling yet somehow lovable proprietor of a rundown English seaside hotel. Cleese apparently based this character on a proprietor he had met while staying with the other Pythons at a hotel in England. Only a dozen episodes were made, but each was truly hilarious, and he is still closely associated with this program to this day.
Meanwhile Cleese had established a production company, Video Arts, for clever business training videos in which he generally starred, which were and continue to be enormously successful in the English-speaking world. He continues to act prolifically in movies, including in the hit comedy A Fish Called Wanda (1988), in the Harry Potter series, and in the James Bond series as the new Q, starting with The World Is Not Enough (1999), in which he began as R before graduating to Q. Cleese also supplies his voice to numerous animated and video projects, and frequently does commercials.
Besides the infamous Basil Fawlty character, Cleese`s other well-known trademark is his rendition of an English upper-class toff. He has a daughter with Booth and a daughter with his second wife, Barbara Trentham. He is currently married to Alice Faye Eichelberger. Education and learning are important elements of his life - he was Rector of the University of Saint Andrews from 1973 until 1976, and continues to be a professor at large of Cornell University in New York. Cleese lives in Santa Barbara, California.
Couple Profile Source
Clifton College, Bristol
MA, Cambridge University (1963)
Full Name at Birth
John Marwood Cleese
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Count - Awards
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John Marwood Cleese (; born 27 October 1939) is an English actor, comedian, writer and film producer. He achieved success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and as a scriptwriter and performer on The Frost Report. In the late 1960s, he co-founded Monty Python, the comedy troupe responsible for the sketch show Monty Python's Flying Circus and the four Monty Python films: And Now for Something Completely Different, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life.
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Music Profile Complete
Actor, voice actor, comedian, writer
Talent Agency (e.g. Modelling)
Celebrity Talent International, World Entertainment Talent Agency, Phil McIntyre Management Ltd.
(1999) TV commercial: "15 Days of 007" on WTBS-TV., (1992) TV commercial: Schweppes beverages, (1992) TV commercials: Magnavox TVs, (1970s) TV commercial (Holland): Giro., TV commercial: Lowney's Peanut Butter Cups, (1996) TV commercial: Comedy Central television network, (1998) TV commercial (voice-over): Lexus automobiles., (1999) TV commercial: Melba Snack Crackers, (1999) TV commercial: ArtistDirect.com, (2001) TV commercial: "007" for PlayStation2, (2001) TV commercial: _007: Agent Under Fire (2001) (VG)_ video game, as 'R', (2001) TV commercial: Playstation 2 James Bond video game, (1982) TV commercial (Australia): EAC Multilist (real estate listing service) playing a shoddy, Basil Fawlty-style estate agent, (2002) TV commercial: Little Tikes, (1996) TV commercials (Denmark): TeleDanmark, (2003) TV commercial: Westinghouse Unplugged Vacuum Cleaner, TV commercials (Germany): "Günther Lottery"., (1982) TV commercial (Holland): Postbank, (1998) TV commercial (w/Emma Kennedy: Sainsbury's, Radio ads (Canada): the Firkin Pub chain, (2004) TV commercial: Westinghouse SaladXpress., (1993) Print ads: Magnavox televisions and consumer electronics., (2005) TV commercial: Intel., (2005) Print ad: Intel Centrino, (2005) TV commercial: Titleist golf balls, (1980s) TV commercials: Appeared in British political broadcasts for the SDP-Liberal Alliance., (2006) TV commercial: Turner Broadcasting System (TBS)., Print ads: Trendmaker Homes., (2006) TV commercial (Germany): Kaupthing Bank., (1992) TV commercial: QuitLine, (1998) TV commercial: Tostitos (as a French chef), (2009) TV commercial (Sweden): El Giganten, (1987) TV commercial: Master Blend coffee
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