John Marwood Cleese

portrait of John Cleese
Promotional image (in use 2011)

Born: 27 October 1939, Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset, England, UK

Cleese has that surname because his father, Reginald Francis Cheese, switched one letter when he enlisted in the Army in 1915. Cleese attended St Peter's Preparatory School where he did well in sports as well as academics, at 13 he went to Clifton College at Bristol where he passed three A-Levels (Math, Physics, Chemistry). He returned to St Peter's as a teacher before entering Downing College, Cambridge where he studied law and joined the Cambridge Footlights Revue, along with another future Python, Graham Chapman. He worked as a writer and comedian rather than practice law, working for BBC Radio and joining the staff of The Frost Report in 1965. David Frost's staff was rich with talent that would go on to separate success, including three more future Pythons: Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. Monty Python's Flying Circus appeared on BBC Television for four seasons (October 1969 to December 1974), Cleese was a prominent part of the first three seasons. From 1970 to 1973 Cleese served as rector of the University of St Andrews, the oldest university in Scotland, and notably reanimated student participation in campus governance. He co-wrote Fawlty Towers with his first wife, starring as Basil Fawlty, the epitome of poor customer service, modeled after an actual hotelier that had once hosted Monty Python. (The widow of that worthy claims he was misrepresented in the series.) In 1988 he wrote and starred in A Fish Called Wanda and it's sequel Fierce Creatures, the latter being one of only two things he claims he wouldn't repeat if he had his life to live over again. (The other is marry his third wife.) Cleese has appeared in two James Bond films and two Harry Potter films, along with a Pink Panther movie and a host of other acting, voice-only parts, and live appearances. He's the man who made "And now for something completely different" a gag and put 44 kinds of cheese into one five-minute sketch.

Biography from Wikipedia and Comedy Zone

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