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Cleveland, Carol (1942-)


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Although not a fully accredited member of the Monty Python team, Carol Cleveland appeared in most episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus (BBC, 1969-74) and all the feature films, typically in the kind of sultry glamourpuss roles that Terry Jones understandably baulked at attempting. This has given her a cult following to this day, though she largely failed to capitalise on this in later film and television work.

Born in London on 13 January 1942, she was raised in various parts of the US, where she achieved some renown as a teenage beauty queen. Returning to Britain in 1960, she enrolled at RADA and established herself as an actress and model (she was one of the first British Playboy Bunnies), playing assorted small television roles in drama and, increasingly, comedy. After appearing opposite Roy Hudd, Spike Milligan and Ronnie Barker, she was recommended to the Pythons in 1969.

In an occasionally rueful interview thirty years later, Cleveland described her biggest break as being "a ball and chain", saying that while she loved working with the team, their public-school background meant they were very poor at writing memorable female parts apart from elderly grotesques, which they would invariably play themselves. However, there were occasional exceptions, such as identical twin nymphomaniacs Zoot and Dingo in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (d. Terry Jones/Terry Gilliam, 1975).

She continued to appear on television into the 1980s (usually in comedy, opposite Lenny Henry, Kelly Monteith and Mike Yarwood), but since then, aside from the occasional Python reunion, she has focused on the stage, where she has had more success at finding serious roles that don't exclusively rely on her self-described "glamour stooge" image.

Michael Brooke

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Thumbnail image of Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)

Controversial but hilarious comedy about a reluctant messiah

Thumbnail image of Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969-74)Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969-74)

Legendary sketch show that revolutionised TV comedy

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