Graham Chapman

Graham Arthur Chapman (1941 - 1989)

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Graham Arthur Chapman
Born in Leicestershire, England, United Kingdommap
Ancestors ancestors
[sibling(s) unknown]
[spouse(s) unknown]
[children unknown]
Died in Maidstone, Kent, England, United Kingdommap
Profile last modified | Created 21 Nov 2014 | Last significant change: 23 Apr 2019
16:58: Paula (Hawkins) Reinke edited the Biography for Graham Arthur Chapman (1941-1989). (Data Doctor & Fan - corrected typo - 2nd paragraph, 4th line, word before avid - and -> an) [Thank Paula for this]
This page has been accessed 2,243 times.
English flag
Graham Chapman is managed by the England Project.
Join: England Project
Discuss: england


Graham Chapman is Notable.

Graham made his entrance into the world on 8 January 1941 at the Stoneygate Nursing Home, Leicester, Leicestershire, England. He was the second son born to Walter Chapman, a policeman, and his wife Edith Towers. [1][2][3]

Graham was educated in Leicester, eventually entering Melton Mowbray grammar school. There he was to excel in both Sport and Science, but even more so in Amateur Dramatics. It was here that he first began appearing in dramatic productions, and was once singled out for his performance of Mark Antony in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.[1] Along with brother John, born 5 years before him in 1936, he had listened to and become an avid fan of radio comedy, specifically of the Goon Show.[2]Biographer Jim Yoakum said "the radio shows didn't necessarily make him laugh" [4]

In 1959 Graham entered Emmanuel College, Cambridge, to study medicine. He found himself being pulled towards dramatics, and tried unsuccesfully to join the Cambridgeshire Footlights Dramatic Club. This however did not deter him, and after making a name for himself in other circles, he was elected to the committee of the Cambridgeshire Footlights Dramatic Club the following year. It was here that he met his long term writing partner John Cleese. [2]

1962 saw the beginning of Grahams' medical training, and like his brother John before him, he began his training at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London. It was during this time that he was invited to join the Footlights in their Cambridge Circus Show. Graham subsequently deferred his training for a year, joined the show and toured New Zealand and the Americas with them.[2] After his return, he continued studying at St Bartholomew's, but he increasingly felt his heart was more into acting than medicine. He completed his studies and graduated as a doctor, but later his brother said "He wasn't ever driven to go into medicine ... it wasn't his life's ambition" [5]

Graham followed his heart, and went back to working again alongside John Cleese. They did a number of shows, both writing and performing, off and on screen, but it was in 1969, when, what in hindsight can now be seen as the crucial turning point in his career, Graham and John Cleese joined forces with Marty Feldman, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam. The group became Monty Python's Flying Circus and were singularly known as a python. [1] The show turned out to be quite a revolutionary mix of comedy from satirical and surreal to absurd and silly, but fitted Graham's persona perfectly. At 6 feet 4 inches tall, having aristocratic features and a habit of smoking a pipe, Graham became a more sensitive and adaptable actor. [2] Between 1969 and 1982 forty-five television shows were produced (running from 1969 to 1974) and five films. [2]

For a number of years, Graham struggled to understand his own sexuality, and in 1966, in Ibiza he met David Sherlock, who was to become his lifelong partner. [1] In 1971 they adopted and became legal guardians of John Tomiczek, a 14 year old runaway from Liverpool. John was later to become Graham's manager, but passed away after a heart attack, just 3 years after Grahams death. [1]

During the mid 1980's, the trio moved to Maidstone, Kent, and by 1988, Graham's talents for writing were in great demand, and he was involved in a number of projects. It was then that a routine visit to the dentist, found a malignant tumour on one of his tonsils, which was removed by a tonsillectomy. As 1988 turned into 1989, Graham found out, that despite various treatments and chemotherapy, the cancer had moved into his spine and had become inoperable. His mother Edith was to lose her life in July, which physically affected Graham, as by then, he himself was terminally ill. [1]

Shortly afterwards, Graham filmed scenes for the 20th anniversary of the first broadcast of Flying Circus, it was to be the final time he appeared on television. Graham passed away on 4th October, 1989, in Maidstone Hospital. David Sherlock was by his bedside as were a number of his close friends.[1] [2] It was the eve of the twentieth anniversary of the first broadcast of Flying Circus, and Terry Jones called it "the worst case of party-pooping in all history".[6]

The five surviving Python members decided to stay away from Graham's private funeral, to prevent it from becoming a media circus and to give his family some privacy. They sent a wreath in the shape of the Python foot with the message: "To Graham from the other Pythons with all our love. PS: Stop us if we're getting too silly". However, at his private memorial service, John Cleese delivered a eulogy for Chapman that began: "Graham Chapman, co-author of the "Parrot Sketch", is no more. He has ceased to be. Bereft of life, he rests in peace. He's kicked the bucket, hopped the twig, bit the dust, snuffed it, breathed his last, and gone to meet the great Head of Light Entertainment in the sky". [1]

There have been rumours that Graham's Ashes were either "launched into the air over Wales by a giant firework at a New Years display", "blasted into the skies by a rocket", or "scattered on the mountains of Snowdonia, Wales". It is uncertain, which, if any of those are true. [1]

Asteroid 9617 Grahamchapman, named in Graham's honour, is one of six asteroids named after the Python members. [1]

More of his eulogy and indeed the rest of his life can be read at Wikipedia, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and the book about his life "The Life of Graham, The authorised biography of Graham Chapman" [1][2][7]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 ‘Graham Chapman’. In Wikipedia, 19 March 2019. Graham Chapman
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 ‘Chapman, Graham (1941–1989), Comedian and Writer | Oxford Dictionary of National Biography’. Accessed 26 March 2019. ODNB.
  3. "England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008," database, FamilySearch ( : 1 October 2014), Graham Chapman, 1941; from "England & Wales Births, 1837-2006," database, findmypast ( : 2012); citing Birth Registration, Leicester, Leicestershire, England, citing General Register Office, Southport, England.
  4. Chapman, Graham; Yoakum, Jim (2006). Jim Yoakum, ed. Calcium Made Interesting : Sketches, Letters, Essays & Gondolas. London: Sidgwick & Jackson. ISBN 0-283-07016-1.
  5. McCabe, Bob (2005). The Life of Graham, The authorised biography of Graham Chapman. London: Orion Books. ISBN 978-0-752-85773-2.
  6. Marasco, Ron; Shuff, Brian (2010). About Grief: Insights, Setbacks, Grace Notes, Taboos. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1-566-63858-6.
  7. McCabe, Bob (2005). The Life of Graham, The authorised biography of Graham Chapman. London: Orion Books. ISBN 978-0-752-85773-2.

More Genealogy Tools

Sponsored Search

Sponsored Search by

No known carriers of Graham's ancestors' Y-chromosome or mitochondrial DNA have taken yDNA or mtDNA tests and no close relatives have taken a 23andMe, AncestryDNA, or Family Tree DNA "Family Finder" test.

Have you taken a DNA test for genealogy? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.

Images: 2
The Pythons in 1969
The Pythons in 1969

Graham Chapman Image 1
Graham Chapman Image 1

  • Login to edit this profile.
  • Private Messages: Contact the Profile Managers privately: Ron Norman and England Project WikiTree. (Best when privacy is an issue.)
  • Public Comments: Login to post. (Best for messages specifically directed to those editing this profile. Limit 20 per day.)
  • Public Q&A: These will appear above and in the Genealogist-to-Genealogist (G2G) Forum. (Best for anything directed to the wider genealogy community.)

On 27 Mar 2019 at 22:29 GMT Gillian Thomas wrote:

Hello Ron, the England Project would like to co-manage this profile with you as part of the project, due to his significance for England. You are very welcome to stay on as a co-profile manager and collaborate with the England Project regarding the profile. See Project Managed Profiles Help for more information. I will send you a trusted list request with instructions for how the add the England Project account as profile manager. If you have any questions, or have difficulty adding the Project Account, please contact me, and we can talk further. Thank you so much. Gillian, Leader, England Project.

Graham is 42 degrees from Amy Gilpin, 36 degrees from Joshua Slocum and 33 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

C  >  Chapman  >  Graham Arthur Chapman

Categories: Leicester, Leicestershire | English Actors | English Comedians | English Notables | Notables