Graham Arthur Chapman (January 8, 1941 – October 4, 1989) was an English comedian writer, actor, author, and one of the six members of the British surreal comedy group Monty Python, with John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. He played authority figures such as the Colonel and the lead role in two Python films, Holy Grail (1975) and Life of Brian (1979).
Chapman was born in Leicester and was raised in Melton Mowbray. He enjoyed science, acting and comedy and, after graduating from Emmanuel College, Cambridge and St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical College, he turned down a career as a doctor to be a comedian instead. Chapman eventually established a writing partnership with Cleese, which reached its critical peak with Monty Python during the 1970s. He subsequently left Britain for Los Angeles, where he attempted to be a success on American television, speaking on the college circuit and producing the pirate film Yellowbeard (1983), with Peter Cook, Peter Boyle, Cheech & Chong, Martin Hewitt, Michael Hordern, Idle, Madeline Kahn, James Mason Cleese, Marty Feldman, Spike Milligan and Peter Bull; before returning to Britain in the early 1980s.
In his personal life, Chapman was openly homosexual and a strong supporter of gay rights, and was in a long-term partnership with David Sherlock. He was an alcoholic during his time at Cambridge and the Python years, but quit drinking shortly before working on Life of Brian. He later became an enthusiast and patron of the Dangerous Sports Club. Chapman died of tonsil cancer on 4 October 1989, on the eve of Monty Python’s 20th anniversary. His life and legacy were commemorated at a private memorial service at St Bartholomew’s with the other five Pythons.
Each review will be linked to the title below.
(*seen originally in theaters)
(**seen rereleased in theaters)
- The The Magic Christian (1969) – directed by Joseph McGrath – uncredited actor and writer
- Doctor in Trouble (1970) – directed by Ralph Thomas
- The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer (1970) – directed by Kevin Billington – also co-writer
- And Now for Something Completely Different (1971) – directed by Ian MacNaughton – also co-writer
- The Statue (1971) – directed by Rodney Amateau
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)** – directed by Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones – also co-writer
- The Odd Job (1978) – directed by Peter Medak – also co-writer, producer
- Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)** – directed by Terry Jones – also co-writer
- Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982) – directed by Terry Hughes (live segments) & Ian MacNaughton (filmed segments) – also co-writer – concert comedy film
- The Crimson Permanent Assurance (1983) – directed by Terry Gilliam – uncredited actor – short
- Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983) – directed by Terry Jones – also co-writer
- Yellowbeard (1983) – directed by Mel Damski – also co-writer
- Still Crazy like a Fox (1987) – directed by Paul Krasny – TV movie
- Jake’s Journey (1988) – directed by Hal Ashby – TV pilot – also writer
- A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman (2012) – directed by Bill Jones, Jeff Simpson, & Ben Timlett – archive footage and Audio – posthumous release
- Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go (2014)* – directed by Eric Idle & Aubrey Powell – archive footage – also co-writer – concert film – posthumous release