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Chapman, Graham

Born: 1941 AD
Died: 1989 AD
Nationality: British
Categories: Actors, Comedians

1941 – He was born Graham Arthur Chapman on the 8th day of January this year in Leicester, Leicestershire, England. He was educated at Melton Mowbray Grammar School and studied medicine at Emmanuel College at the University of Cambridge, where he began writing comedy with fellow University student John Cleese. He qualified as a medical doctor at the Barts Hospital Medical College, but never practised medicine professionally.


1964 – Chapman joined Footlights. Fellow members were John Cleese, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Bill Oddie, David Hatch, Jonathan Lynn, Humphrey Barclay, and Jo Kendall. Their revue A Clump of Plinths was so successful at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival that they renamed it Cambridge Circus, and took the revue to the West End in London and later New Zealand and Broadway in September of this year.


1969 – He and Cleese joined Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Eric Idle and American artist Terry Gilliam for Monty Python’s Flying Circus.


1973 – After Cleese left the series in this year, he wrote alone, although he did work with Neil Innes and Douglas Adams for the final fourth series. He then developed a number of television and movie projects, most notably Out of the Trees, The Odd Job and Yellowbeard, in which he starred alongside Cleese, Peter Cook, Cheech and Chong and Marty Feldman, who died during the final days of production.


1970 – He moved to Los Angeles, where he guest-starred on many US television shows, including The Hollywood Squares, Still Crazy Like a Fox, and the NBC sketch series The Big Show. Upon returning to England he became involved with the Dangerous Sports Club (an extreme sports club which introduced bungee jumping to a wide audience), and he began the first of a lengthy series of US college comedy lecture tours in the 1980s.


1972 – Chapman was a vocal spokesman for gay rights, and in this year, he lent his support to the fledgling newspaper the Gay News which publicly acknowledged his financial and editorial support by listing him as one of its ‘special friends’.


1977 – Chapman was an alcoholic and drank heavily from his time in medical school through the 1970s. His drinking affected his performance on the television recording set as well as on the set of Holy Grail. It was Christmas of this year, when he decided to stop drinking. He remarkably kept his word, which helped him with his performance in Life of Brian.


1980 – His memoir, A Liar’s Autobiography, was published in 1980 and, unusually for an autobiography, had five authors: Chapman, his partner David Sherlock, Alex Martin, David Yallop and Douglas Adams, who in 1977 was virtually unknown as a recent graduate fresh from Cambridge.


1988 – He was diagnosed in November of this year after visiting his dentist where a growth was found on his tonsils.


1989 – He died of pneumonia brought about by throat cancer on the 4th day of October this year in Maidstone, Kent, England at age 48.