While attending Cambridge University, Leicester-born Graham Chapman met and befriended fellow student John Cleese. Sharing a keen sense of the ridiculous, Chapman and Cleese formed a writing/performing team, contributing scripts to a variety of BBC radio and TV shows, most notably Doctor in the House. They also wrote for such satirical films as The Magic Christian (1969) and Rentadick (1972). In 1969, Chapman and Cleese formed the Monty Python comedy troupe, which led to the matchless TV comedy-sketch series Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969-1974). Because he came closest to resembling a film star, the Pythons cast Chapman in the leading roles of their film projects Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) and The Life of Brian (1978); in the latter film, Chapman scored as an "alternate Messiah" who ended his life on the Cross while singing an insipid cheer-up song. On his own, Graham Chapman was not quite as successful as he'd been in the company of fellow Pythons Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Terry Gilian, though he did publish a moderately successful 1981 memoir, A Liar's Autobiography. After co-scripting and co-starring in the all-star "comedy salad" Yellowbeard (1983), Graham Chapman died of spinal and throat cancer; he was only 48.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Met fellow Monty Python comic John Cleese when both were students at Cambridge University, where they were members of the Cambridge Footlights Revue comedy troupe.
- Earned a medical degree, though he never practiced medicine.
- Active in the Dangerous Sports Club, an extreme sports organization that popularized bungee jumping.
- Authored the 1981 memoir A Liar's Autobiography and several books published posthumously, including 1997's Graham Crackers: Fuzzy Memories, Silly Bits, and Outright Lies, 1999's Ojril: The Completely Incomplete Graham Chapman and 2005's Calcium Made Interesting: Sketches, Letters, Essays & Gondolas.
- One of his later writing partners was Douglas Adams, author of the novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.