John Cleese is a multi-faceted English entertainer. He is a screenwriter, an actor, voice actor, comedian, and producer. Over the years, he has made tremendous contributions to the entertainment industry and thus has become one of the most treasured British entertainers. He is best recognized as one of the co-founders of Monty Python, a British surreal comedy troupe that produced a handful of films as well as a sketch comedy series. Cleese has written, produced and acted in numerous shows and films, most notably, the successful BBC sitcom Fawlty Towers. Here, we will take you through the highlights of his illustrious career as well as facts about his personal life.
John Cleese Bio, Age
John Marwood Cleese was born on the 27th day of October 1939 in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset. He was the only child of his parents, Reginald Francis Cleese (1893–1972) and homemaker, Muriel Evelyn (née Cross; 1899–2000). His father worked as an insurance salesman and made a modest living. However, Cleese was able to attend good private schools thanks to his mother’s inheritance from her own father who worked as an auctioneer.
In primary school, Cleese excelled at academics and sports (cricket). He earned an exhibition to attend Clifton College after which he proceeded to Cambridge University to study Law. At this time, he had grown fond of comedy radio shows like “The Goon Show.” In a bid to express his comic side, he joined Cambridge’s Footlights Dramatic Club and began writing and performing in their comedy reviews, many of which were successful most notably Cambridge Circus. Cleese graduated from Cambridge with a 2:1 in 1963.
After college, he wrote for BBC, and rejoined Cambridge Circus briefly. He remained in America for sometime after leaving Cambridge Circus. John Cleese then returned to England where he appeared in many radio and TV shows. Cleese got his big break as a writer and actor for The Frost Report. He made friends with some of his co-writers on the show who would join him to form, the Monty Python comedy troupe.
The troupe members, Cleese inclusive soon became a sensation thanks to their hit sketch show, Flying Circus. The show remains influential to this day. Cleese left the show after three seasons but would continue to collaborate with the troupe members. His next big hit would be Fawlty Towers (1975 – 1979) which he co-wrote with his then-wife Connie Booth. The show won three BAFTA Awards.
The talented comedian has proven to be resilient over the years. He has starred in numerous works and continues to be relevant to this day. Some of his other notable works include A Fish Called Wanda, Fierce Creatures, and Clockwise. Cleese has starred in two James Bond films, first portraying R and later Q, as well as 2 Harry Potter films. He has voiced numerous animated characters. He voiced King Harold in the last 3 Shrek films. In recent years, Cleese has become more dedicated to voice gigs.
John Cleese has been duly awarded for his contributions to the entertainment industry. Here is a look at some of his achievements.
• 1980 BAFTA for Best Entertainment Performance – Fawlty Towers
• 1986 Evening Standard British Film Awards Peter Sellers Award for Comedy Clockwise
• 1987 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series – Cheers
• 1988 BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role – A Fish Called Wanda
• Rose d’Or lifetime achievement award in 2016
• The asteroid 9618 Johncleese, named in his honor
The Rose d’Or awardee has been tremendously successful in his career. In addition to writing, acting, and producing films and TV shows, John has earned a fortune from advertisement. Over the course of his career, he has appeared in over 50 commercials. His net worth has been estimated at $10 million. Cleese would be far richer had it not been for his 2008 divorce from his third wife which cost him £12 million in finance and asset as well as £600,000 annual payout for 7 years, ending in 2015.
John Cleese is known for his many marriages. He married for the fourth time in 2012 to English jewelry designer and former model Jennifer Wade. Their wedding was held in August on the Caribbean island of Mustique. Cleese once said in an interview with The Lady that despite being previously married thrice, he had never had the type of connection he has with Wade, who is 32 years younger than him.
Cleese was first married to American writer and actress, Connie Booth, in 1968. Three years later, in 1971, they welcomed their first child together, daughter, Cynthia which was their only child as they divorced in 1978.
Three years after his first divorce, John Cleese tied the knot with American actress Barbara Trentham in 1981. They had a daughter, Camilla (b 1984) and divorced in 1990. Cleese would then mary his third wife American psychotherapist Alyce Faye Eichelberger in 1992. Their marriage ended in an ugly divorce in 2008 which cost Cleese tens of millions of pounds in the divorce settlement.
In addition to his signature mustache, John Cleese is also noted for his tall height. At the age of 12, Cleese had already grown to 6 feet tall and was often teased in school. He now stands at a height of 6 feet 5 inches tall. The comic often times exploits his tall and intimidating stature to play roles.