It’s often said that 1939 was one of Hollywood’s greatest years. It was certainly notable for comedy, being the year in which John Marwood Cheese was born on October 27 in Weston-Super-Mare, England.
Inch for inch (and he’s 6’6") the funniest man on the planet, Cleese will forever be best known as one of the six members of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. But unlike the vast majority of television comedians who fade away after their show ends, Cleese went on to the hilarious series “Fawlty Towers” and the Oscar-winning A Fish Called Wanda. He’s now content with commercials, supporting roles (he makes a terrific "Q" in the new James Bond films) and voice parts.
<p>Here’s one of Cleese’s first film appearances, with Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr, as a snooty art auctioneer in <em>The Magic Christian</em>, a film which demonstrated that anyone will do anything if you just give them enough money:</p>
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<p>And here’s some Cleese trivia courtesy of Jonathan-Margolis’s biography <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Cleese-Encounters-Jonathan-Margolis/dp/0752816934/ref=sr_1_3/002-5234932-0267236?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1193670592&sr=8-3">Cleese Encounters</a></em>:</p>
<p>• His family name was originally Cheese, but his father changed it before he entered the army to avoid tiresome jokes. (Good thing—John’s best school chum was named Butter.) <br />
• He was the only child of middle-aged parents so doting that they moved next door to his school, partly so that he wouldn’t have far to go and partly to give them an excuse not to buy him a bicycle, which they thought would be dangerous. He was so protected that he never developed a healthy sense of aggression, which led to his fascination with aggressive people as a source of comedy. <br />
• By the age of 12 he was already six feet tall. <br />
• He was so fond of the name “Otto” that he told people it was his middle name. <br />
• Cleese’s 80-year-old mother appeared in ads for Monty Python’s Life Of Brian, asking people to go see her son’s movie "so that I won’t have to go to the home." </p>