An instigator of some of the more groundbreaking developments in twentieth-century comedy, John Cleese is one of Britain's best-known actors, writers, and comedians. Famous primarily for his comic efforts, such as the television series Fawlty Towers and the exploits of the Monty Python troupe, he has also become a well-respected actor in his own right.
Born John Marwood Cleese (after his family changed their surname from "Cheese") on October 27, 1939, Cleese grew up in the middle-class seaside resort town of Weston-Super-Mare. He enrolled at Cambridge University with the intention of studying law, but soon discovered that his comic leanings held greater sway than his interest in the law. He joined the celebrated Cambridge Footlights Society--he was initially rejected because he could neither sing nor dance, but was accepted after collaborating with a friend on some comedy sketches--where he gained a reputation as a team player and met future writing partner and Python Graham Chapman.