John Cleese

As perhaps the most famous of the performers who starred in the irreverent comedy troupe, Monty Python, actor and comedian John Cleese reached legendary status, thanks to his deadpan delivery of ridiculous characters and limber-limbed slapstick antics. Prior to starring on "Monty Python's Flying Circus" (BBC, 1969-1974) with cast mates Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam, Cleese had established himself predominantly as a writer and occasional performer on such British series as "The Dick Emery Show" (BBC, 1963-1991) and "The Frost Report" (BBC, 1966). But with Monty Python, Cleese became an international star once the series began airing in America on PBS, which led to several films, two of which - "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (1974) and "Monty Python's Life of Brian" (1979) - became instant classics. Following the death of Chapman in 1989, Monty Python as a full unit ceased to be, though on several occasions the surviving members reunited for various stage performances. Meanwhile, after numerous supporting roles, Cleese broke through with "A Fish Called Wanda" (1988), which reintroduced him to a new generation and paved the way for a long, venerable career as a prominent character actor in major Hollywood blockbusters.