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Graham Chapman Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Trade Mark (3) | Trivia (19) | Personal Quotes (4)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 8 January 1941Leicester, Leicestershire, England, UK
Date of Death 4 October 1989Maidstone, England, UK  (spinal and throat cancer)
Birth NameGraham Arthur Chapman
Height 6' 3" (1.91 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Graham Chapman was born on January 8, 1941 in Leicester, England while a Germain air raid was in progress. Graham's father was a chief police inspector and probably inspired the constables Graham often portrayed later in comedy sketches. Graham studied medicine in college and earned an M.D., but he practiced medicine for only a few years.

At Cambridge, he took part in a series of comedy revues and shortly after completing his medical studies at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, Graham realized what he wanted to do with his life. He wanted to perform comedy. In 1969, Graham along with University friends John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and American Terry Gilliam formed the own comedy group called Monty Python. Their BBC TV series "Monty Python's Flying Circus," which aired a short while later was a an instant hit. Their often self-referential style of humor was delightfully original but completely accessible to most audiences in the UK.

Before the show appeared on public television in the US, many people assumed that Americans would find Monty Python much too British to consider it funny. But PBS never had a larger audience than when stations began to air it during the early 1970s. The classic routines have since become standard college humor.

So enduring was the Python humor that fans know entire sketches such as "The Pet Shop," "Nudge-Nudge, Wink-Wink," "Argument Clinic," and "Penguin on the Telly." Graham was a standout of the group with his tall, blond profile and his zany characters (one of the more memorable was Muriel Volestrangler, a vaguely military-type character who would stop a sketch because it was "much too silly").

Graham was openly gay long before it was socially acceptable, and was open about his long-term relationship with writer David Sherlock, who lived with him for 24 years. He even adopted and raised a teenage runaway named John Tomiczek. Graham played the title role in the movie Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979) as well as King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975). By the late 1970s most of the Python members were pursuing independent movie projects and the group slowly faded into obscurity. In 1983 he co-wrote and starred in the movie Yellowbeard which received negative reviews.

In 1988, Graham began working on another series when his health began to decline. A longtime alcoholic, who suffered liver damage before he stopped drinking in 1977, Graham began to have trouble concentrating at work. In November 1988, a routine visit to a dentist revealed a malignant tumor on his tonsil which was surgically removed. A visit to the doctor revealed another tumor on his spine which had to be removed which confined him to a wheelchair. During most of 1989, he underwent a series of operations and radiation therapy but for every tumor that was found and removed, another would form either along his spine or in his throat. In his wheelchair, he attended the September 1989 taping for the Monthy Python's 20th anniversary special. But on October 1, he was hospitalized after a massive stroke which turned into a hemorrhage. He died at the age of 48 on 4 October, 1989 from complications of the stroke as well as throat and spinal cancer.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Matthew Patay

Trade Mark (3)

Often cast as comical authority figures (most notably the Colonel)
His Pipe
Walking onto the screen and talking directly to the audience to let them know that a sketch has gotten too absurd and will now end

Trivia (19)

Member of the comedy group "Monty Python".
Studied Medicine at Cambridge University.
Co-wrote several episodes of Doctor in the House (1969) and its sequels with John Cleese.
While at Cambridge University, was a member of the prestigious Cambridge University Footlights Club. He went to the USA with the Cambridge University Footlights Club revue in 1964 - appearing on stage in Broadway, and on the "Ed Sullivan Show".
Longtime (24 years) companion of David Sherlock. Together, the two raised a son, John Tomiczak.
Born at 8:30am-BST
Died of cancer on 4th October 1989, just one day before the 20th anniversary of Monty Python. Terry Jones called it "The worst case of party-pooping I've ever seen.".
Co-author (with Barry Cryer) of the play "O Happy Day," which was discovered among his manuscripts and produced nearly eleven years after Chapman's death. "O Happy Day" had its world premiere on September 22, 2000, at Dad's Garage Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. A portion of Chapman's ashes were in attendance for the premiere.
Was going to play the part of the reporter in the Red Dwarf (1988) episode "Timeslides", but died before filming could begin. The part instead went to Ruby Wax, the wife of one of the show's directors Ed Bye.
Was the second tallest member of the Monty Python troupe, being an inch taller than Eric Idle and just over two inches shorter than John Cleese.
The last time he appeared on film, was in the Iron Maiden music video, "Can I Play With Madness", filmed in England April 1988.
His parents were Walter and Edith.
Before joining the Cambridge Footlight Dramatic Society, while studying medicine at Emmanuel College, he founded his own cabaret show. When he was invited to join the Society, he did the same year that John Cleese joined.
Qualified at St. Bartholomew's hospital as a medical doctor.
Struggled with alcoholism, especially during the filming of Monty Python & The Holy Grail (1975). According to Terry Gilliam, Chapman constantly forgot his lines and was so drunk during filming that he couldn't make it across the Bridge of Death, so the assistant cameraman had to double for him. Additionally, Chapman was genuinely struggling with the rock climbing scene because of his alcohol struggle, which surprised the other Pythons since they had known him to be an excellent climber and wondered if his suit was interfering with his climbing.
Is the only member of Monty Python's Flying Circus who never worked in one of Terry Gilliam's non-Python projects.
Member of Monty Python along with John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam.
He and his longtime partner, TV writer David Sherlock, were among the co-writers of the British sitcom Doctor in Charge (1972). After Chapman's death, Sherlock contributed to The Pythons book. David was also the inspiration for many Monty Python sketches, including "Anne Elk" and was the originator of the Python sketch "Death of Mary Queen of Scots". David was one of several co-authors on "A Liar's Autobiography," the official Chapman memoir, and co-writer of the movie Yellowbeard (1983) in which Chapman played the title role.
His last appearance on film in Iron Maiden's promo for "Can I Play With Madness" was directed by Python Editor, Julian Doyle.

Personal Quotes (4)

We don't deliberately set out to offend. Unless we feel it's justified. And in the case of certain well-known religions, it was justified.
I hope I will have achieved something lasting.
John Howard Davies was not a very human person ... if you made a mistake of any kind, any sort of pause in speech, he would treat you rather as if he was a schoolmaster.
[Chapman and the other members of the Monty Python group traveled to visit the site of Dachau concentration camp in Germany, but were told by staff that they were too late and the museum was about to close] Tell them we're Jewish.

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