|Birth Day:||January 8, 1941|
|Death Date:||Oct 4, 1989 (age 48)|
As per our current Database, Graham Chapman died on Oct 4, 1989 (age 48).
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He attended Emmanuel College before attending St Bartholomew's Medical College. He and John Cleese wrote professionally for the BBC during the 1960s and contributed sketches to the BBC radio series I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again as well as television shows such as The Illustrated Weekly Hudd.
Graham Arthur Chapman was born on 8 January 1941 at the Stoneygate Nursing Home, Stoneygate, Leicester, the son of policeman Walter Chapman and Edith Towers. Walter Chapman was a police constable at the time of Graham's birth; he ended his career as a chief inspector. He had been trained as a French polisher for a coffin-maker before entering the police force in the 1930s.
In 1959, Chapman began to study medicine at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He joined the Cambridge Footlights, where he first began writing with John Cleese. Following graduation, Chapman joined the Footlights show Cambridge Circus and toured New Zealand, deferring his medical studies for a year. After the tour, he continued his studies at St Bartholomew's Medical College, but became torn between whether to pursue a career in medicine or acting. His brother John later said, "He [Graham] wasn't ever driven to go into medicine... it wasn't his life's ambition."
Chapman first met his long-term partner David Sherlock in Ibiza in 1966. He later described realising he was homosexual as "an important moment in my life". He told close friends about his relationship, including Cleese and Feldman, the following year. Chapman and Sherlock moved to Belsize Park in 1968, and the pair enjoyed visiting gay clubs in Central London. In the early 1970s, after Chapman had found fame with Monty Python, they moved to a house in Highgate.
In 1969, Chapman and Cleese joined the other Pythons, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam, for their sketch comedy series Monty Python's Flying Circus. The group's writing was split into well-defined teams, with Chapman collaborating almost exclusively with Cleese. Chapman was particularly keen to remove stereotypical punchlines in sketches and created The Colonel, who would stop them in mid-flow by saying they were "too silly".
In 1971, Chapman and Sherlock adopted John Tomiczek as their son. Chapman met Tomiczek when the adolescent was a run-away from Liverpool, aged 14. After discussions with Tomiczek's father, it was agreed that Chapman would become Tomiczek's legal guardian. Both Sherlock and Tomiczek remained a constant in Chapman's life. During the 1970s, Chapman became increasingly concerned about the Pythons' income and finances. He subsequently moved to Los Angeles to avoid British income tax. In the mid-1980s, he returned to the UK and moved to Maidstone, Kent with Sherlock and Tomiczek. Tomiczek later became Chapman's business manager, and got engaged, but died of a heart attack in 1992.
Chapman first disclosed his homosexuality in public in 1972, on a television show fronted by British jazz musician George Melly, becoming one of the first celebrities to do so. He was a vocal spokesman for gay rights, supporting the Gay Liberation Front. In 1972, Chapman supported the newspaper Gay News, which listed him as one of the publication's "special friends" in recognition. During a college tour, Chapman mentioned that a television audience member had written to The Pythons to complain about them having a gay member, adding that the Bible said; any man who lies with a man should be taken out and stoned. With the other Pythons already aware of his sexual orientation, Idle jokingly replied that they had found the perpetrator and killed him.
Chapman took up pipe smoking aged 15, which became a lifelong habit. He began drinking heavily during his time at Cambridge and St. Bartholomew's, favouring gin. By the time Monty Python went out on tour in 1973, Chapman's drinking had begun to affect his performance, causing him to miss cues to go on stage. He stopped drinking during Christmas 1977, concerned at being able to act in Life of Brian successfully, and remained sober for the rest of his life.
In 1975, Chapman and Douglas Adams wrote a pilot for a television series, entitled Out of the Trees, but it received poor ratings after being broadcast at the same time as Match of the Day and only the initial episode was produced. In 1978, Chapman co-wrote the comedy film The Odd Job with McKenna, and starred as one of the main characters. Chapman wanted his friend Keith Moon to play a co-lead role alongside him, but Moon could not pass an acting test, so the part went to David Jason who had previously appeared on Do Not Adjust Your Set with Pythons Idle, Jones, and Palin. The film was moderately successful. Chapman guest-starred on several television series including The Big Show.
In 1976, Chapman began writing a pirate film, Yellowbeard (1983), which came out of conversations between Chapman and Moon while in Los Angeles. Moon had always wanted to play Long John Silver, so Chapman began to write a script for him. Moon died in 1978 and the work stalled, eventually being rewritten by McKenna, then by Peter Cook. The film, which starred Chapman as the eponymous pirate, also featured appearances from Cook, Marty Feldman, Cleese, Idle, Spike Milligan, and Cheech & Chong. It marked the last appearance of Feldman, who suffered a fatal heart attack in December 1982. The project was fraught with financial difficulties, and at times there was not enough money to pay the crew. It was released to mixed reviews. David Robinson, reviewing the film in The Times, said that "the Monty Python style of comic anarchy requires more than scatology, rude words and funny faces".
Chapman published his memoirs, A Liar's Autobiography, in 1980, choosing the title because he said "it's almost impossible to tell the truth". He returned to Britain permanently after Yellowbeard was released. He became involved with the extreme sports club Dangerous Sports Club, which popularised bungee jumping. Chapman was scheduled to perform a bungee jump himself, but it was cancelled due to safety concerns.
In 1988, Chapman appeared in the Iron Maiden video "Can I Play with Madness". The same year, he starred in a pilot of a proposed television series, Jake's Journey, but financial problems prevented a full series from being made. In 1988, he also appeared on stage with three other Pythons (Gilliam, Jones and Palin) at the 41st British Academy Film Awards where Monty Python received the BAFTA Award for Outstanding British Contribution To Cinema.
In 1988, Chapman made a routine visit to a dentist, who found a small, malignant tumour on one of his tonsils, leading to both being removed via a tonsillectomy. The following year, the cancer had spread into Chapman's spinal cord, where another tumour was surgically removed. Chapman had several chemotherapy treatments and surgeries during the final months of his life, but ultimately the cancer was declared inoperable. According to his brother, Chapman was visibly upset by the death of his mother that July, by which time he was terminally ill. Shortly afterwards, Chapman filmed scenes for the 20th anniversary of the first broadcast of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the final time he appeared on television.
Broadcast in November 1989, the 20th anniversary television special, Parrot Sketch Not Included – 20 Years of Monty Python, hosted by Python fan Steve Martin, was Chapman's final onscreen appearance with the other five Python members. Chapman was intended to be cast in the Red Dwarf episode "Timeslides", but died before shooting could begin.
Chapman died on 4 October 1989 in Maidstone Hospital. At the time of his death, he was being visited by Sherlock, brother John and his sister-in-law, and fellow Pythons Palin and Cleese, the latter of whom had to be led out of the room to deal with his grief. Peter Cook had intended to visit, but arrived too late and was visibly shaken by the news. Chapman's death occurred on the eve of the twentieth anniversary of The Pythons' collective debut on British television, and Jones called it "the worst case of party-pooping in all history".
In 1997, Sherlock allowed Jim Yoakum to start the 'Graham Chapman Archives'. Later that year, the novel Graham Crackers: Fuzzy Memories, Silly Bits, and Outright Lies was released. It is a semi-sequel to A Liar's Autobiography, with Chapman's works compiled by Yoakum. A compendium of writings, Calcium Made Interesting: Sketches, Letters, Essays & Gondolas, also compiled and edited by Yoakum, was published in 2005 in association with the David Sherlock and John Tomiczeck trust. In 2000, Chapman's play O Happy Day was performed by Dad's Garage Theatre Company in Atlanta, Georgia, with the assistance of Cleese and Palin. In 2006, the album and DVD release Looks Like Another Brown Trouser Job came out, featuring a college lecture recorded in April 1988.
In June 2011, it was announced that Cleese, Jones, Gilliam and Palin would perform in a 3-D animated version of Chapman's memoir A Liar's Autobiography: Volume VI. Co-director Jeff Simpson worked closely with Chapman's estate and the surviving Python members to "get this exactly right". The film, titled A Liar's Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python's Graham Chapman, was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2012 and premiered in the UK the following month as part of the BFI London Film Festival. The voices of Cleese, Gilliam, Jones, and Palin were spliced into commentary recorded by Chapman reading from his memoir and taped shortly before his death. The film's official trailer quoted Chapman as saying, "This is the best film I've been in since I died."
In September 2012, a British Comedy Society blue plaque, to commemorate Chapman, was unveiled at The Angel pub in Highgate, North London, by Jones, Palin, Barry Cryer, Ray Davies and Carol Cleveland. Palin said, "Highgate was his patch, and he should be celebrated because he was a very good, brilliant, funny, nice, wise, kind man, who occasionally drank too much." In December 2014, a green plaque funded by Leicestershire County Council was placed on Chapman's former home in Burton Road, Melton Mowbray. A year later, a blue plaque at the entrance of Chapman's old school, King Edward VII School was reported as stolen, but was later found inside the building. In March 2017, the plaque was relocated to Melton Mowbray town centre.
Currently, Graham Chapman is 81 years, 5 months and 18 days old. Graham Chapman will celebrate 82nd birthday on a Sunday 8th of January 2023.
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