1941 - 1989

“Always look on the bright side of life.”

 – Graham Chapman

Born on January 8, 1941 in Leichester, Graham Chapman grew up loving radio comedy. As a young man he attended Cambridge to pursue a medical career. There he met and began writing with John Cleese. After completing his medical studies, Chapman realized it was comedy that he loved. He and Cleese wrote professionally for the BBC during the 1960s. In 1969, Graham along with Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam formed the comedy group “Monty Python.” Their BBC TV series “Monty Python's Flying Circus,” aired soon after and found immediate success. By this time Chapman had already come out as a gay man on a talk show in 1967 and was happily partnered with writer David Sherlock, with whom he adopted and raised a teenage runaway a few years later. As a comedian his star continued to rise. He played King Arthur in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975). During the filming, Chapman, who drank as much as three pints of gin a day, decided to quit drinking and remained sober for the rest of his life. His next major role was the title character in “The Life of Brian” (1979). The following year he released his memoir, A Liar’s Autobiography and two years later wrote and starred in the comedy “Yellowbeard”. In 1983 he teamed with other Python ensemble members for “The Meaning of Life”. During a dental visit in November 1988 a malignant tumor was discovered on his tonsil and surgically removed. The following year another tumor was found on his spine. Throughout 1989 Chapman underwent a series of treatments. In September of that year he taped his final TV appearance, for Monty Python's 20th anniversary special. On October 1 he suffered a massive stroke. Chapman died at age 48 on October 4, 1989 – one day before the 20th anniversary of the first broadcast of “Flying Circus”. Terry Jones called his death "the worst case of party-pooping I’ve ever seen.”


Gender Male

Sexual Orientation Gay

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White

Nations Affiliated United Kingdom United States

Era/Epoch Information Age (1970-present)

Field(s) of Contribution





Social Justice


Commemorations & Honors

Asteroid 9617 Grahamchapman Named in Honor (1993)

Graham Chapman Archives Created (1997)

British Comedy Society Blue Plaque Unveiled at The Angel Pub in Highgate North London (2012)

Leicestershire County Council Green Plaque Placed at Chapman's Former Home on Burton Road Melton Mowbray (2014)

Blue Plaque Placed in Melton Mowbray Town Center (2017)


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Original Biography Author
Owen Keehnen
Biography Edited By
Victor Salvo
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell