Best Known For
Comedian John Cleese is most famous for his work with the comedy group Monty Python, and for the popular British television series Fawlty Towers.
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For this comedy, he starred as an English barrister who gets mixed up with criminals (Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Kline) who are after some stolen jewels. Michael Palin also had a supporting role in the film, which Cleese co-wrote with Charles Crichton. The comedy raked in more than $200 million at the box office and earned Cleese and Crichton an Academy Award nomination for their script.
The following year,
Cleese reunited with his fellow Python colleagues to say good-bye to one of their own. Graham Chapman died of cancer in a London hospital on October 4, 1989, with Cleese; Palin; Chapman's partner David Sherlock; and some of Chapman's family by his side. That December, Cleese and several other members of Python spoke at Chapman's memorial service.
In 1997, Cleese tried to recreate the success of A Fish Called Wanda in Fierce Creatures by reuniting the cast for a new comedy. Unfortunately, the film received harsh reviews and performed poorly at the box office. Cleese had better luck with other franchises, signing on in the James Bond film series as an assistant gadget expert in The World Is Not Enough (1999). In 2002's Die Another Day, he returned as Q, the chief gadget expert. He also appeared in the first two Harry Potter films as a ghost named Nearly Headless Nick.
Cleese has also enjoyed some success on American television. He won an Emmy Award in 1987 for a guest appearance on the sitcom Cheers. More recently, Cleese had a recurring role on the hit comedy Will & Grace from 2003 to 2004.
His distinctive English accent has been put to good use on several animated projects as well. In Shrek 2 (2004), Shrek the Third (2007), and Shrek Ever After (2010), Cleese voiced King Harold.
Married three times, Cleese went through a bitter divorce in 2009. His third wife, American psychotherapist Alyce Faye Eichelberger, won a roughly $20 million settlement from Cleese. He soon announced that he would go on tour to raise money to pay the alimony to his ex-wife. Cleese has two daughters, Cynthia and Camilla. Cynthia is from his marriage to Connie Booth, and Camilla is from his second marriage to Barbara Trentham.
An author of several books, Cleese contributed to 2005's The Pythons: Autobiography. He also reunited with the surviving members of Monty Python for several events in 2009 to celebrate the group's fortieth anniversary. These days, Cleese works on a variety of other projects. He continues to tour and recently made a guest appearance on the comedy series Entourage.
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