Graham Chapman

Missing image
Chapman in one of his calmer moments

Graham Arthur Chapman (January 8, 1941October 4, 1989) was a British comedian and writer. He was one of the six Monty Python members and lead actor in their two narrative films (King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Brian in Life of Brian).

Chapman studied medicine at Emmanuel College at the University of Cambridge, where he began writing comedy with classmate John Cleese. He qualified as a doctor at the Barts Hospital Medical College, but never actually practiced medicine. The duo wrote professionally on the BBC during the 1960s, primarily for the ubiquitous David Frost but also for Marty Feldman.

They joined Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Eric Idle and American artist Terry Gilliam for Monty Python's Flying Circus in 1969. Cleese and Chapman's classic Python sketches included "The Ministry of Silly Walks" and "Dead Parrot."

One of his particularly famous sketches was the character of The Colonel, a stuffy army officer who occasionally appeared out of nowhere to order the end of a sketch for being too silly. After Cleese left the show in 1973, Chapman wrote alone for the final season. He then developed a number of movie scripts, most notably Yellowbeard, where he starred with Cleese, Peter Cook, and Cheech and Chong.

His memoir, A Liar's Autobiography (Volume Six), was published in 1980. Chapman joined the Dangerous Sports Club, which introduced bungee jumping to a wide audience, and he went on lengthy college lecture tours in the 1980s. In the fall of 1989 on the eve of the Python 20th anniversary, he died of throat cancer which had metastasized to his spine—in Jones' words, "the worst case of party-pooping in all history." Cleese delivered a eulogy for Chapman, during which Cleese used the word "fuck." Cleese's eulogy was so funny that it was noted that some people at the funeral "almost died laughing." Cleese has said that Chapman would have liked that.

Chapman was in many ways the loneliest Python member. He drank alcohol excessively in the 1970s, and he also kept his homosexuality a secret, at least from the public, for much of his adult life although his memoir Liar's, which described his birth as "a great disappointment to his parents, who had been expecting a black heterosexual Jew," certainly did much to out him. Certainly, Chapman's homosexuality was no secret to his friends. One of Michael Palin's favourite stories about Graham involved Palin's trips to collect him every morning for Python related business, he would call up to Chapman's window and be greeted by a collection of young men before Graham eventually surfaced—pipe in mouth. When a member of the public wrote to the BBC to complain that she had heard a member of the Python team was a homosexual, Eric Idle sent a reply confirming that the culprit had been found and shot. It should also be noted that the other Pythons must have known what Chapman was getting at when he produced "The Mouse Problem" sketch, which saw men shamed and disapproved of by indulging in the underworld activity of dressing up as mice.

The remaining Python members have acknowledged that Chapman was exasperating to work with, and difficult to know. But none of the other Pythons could have played King Arthur or Brian as well as Chapman. After his death, speculation of a Python revival inevitably faded—as Idle said, "we would only do a reunion if Graham came back from the dead. So we're negotiating with his agent."

External link

  • Tribute speech ( by John Cleese, featuring the words "fuck" and "Betty Marsden" (visit with javascript turned off or you will be redirected to the home page of the site)
  • Tribute speech (video clip) ( a clip of video from Cleese's eulogy for Chapman
Monty Python Missing image

Members Graham ChapmanJohn CleeseTerry GilliamEric IdleTerry JonesMichael Palin
Other Contributors Carol ClevelandNeil InnesConnie Booth
Films & TV Series Monty Python's Flying CircusAnd Now For Something Completely DifferentMonty Python and the Holy GrailMonty Python's Life of BrianMonty Python Live at the Hollywood BowlThe Meaning of Life
pt:Graham Chapman

cy:Graham Chapman da:Graham Chapman de:Graham Chapman fr:Graham Chapman pl:Graham Chapman sv:Graham Chapman


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