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Booth, Connie (1949-)

Actor, Writer

Main image of Booth, Connie (1949-)

Although she appeared in many British comedies and dramas from the late 1960s to the mid-1990s, Indianapolis-born Connie Booth will always be best known for co-writing and co-starring in the classic sitcom Fawlty Towers (BBC, 1975/79), in which her American maid Polly Sherman provided the level-headed voice of sanity amidst the chaos into which each episode invariably disintegrated.

Booth studied drama in New York City, and met John Cleese when he was touring the comedy circuit there. They married in 1968, and most of her credits over the next decade would be alongside his name, including episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus (BBC, 1969-74), the feature Monty Python and the Holy Grail (d. Terry Jones/Terry Gilliam, 1975), training films for Cleese's company Video Arts, and the mini-feature Romance with a Double Bass (d. Robert Young, 1974), the Chekhov adaptation that Booth and Cleese scripted as well as starred in. By the mid-1970s, Booth had also appeared in the Play For Today productions The After-Dinner Game (BBC, tx. 16/1/1975) and 84 Charing Cross Road (BBC, tx. 4/11/1975).

But this period was dominated by Fawlty Towers, which Cleese admitted was a draining experience. Each episode took six weeks to write, a side-effect of his exacting perfectionism, more pronounced when writing the second series due to the pressure of maintaining the same standard. It was during the latter process that Booth and Cleese separated and subsequently divorced in 1978, and she later said that the experience put her off comedy.

Accordingly, with hardly any exceptions (Leon the Pig Farmer, d. Gary Sinyor, 1992), her later acting roles were in serious drama on both stage and screen (notably the acclaimed 1982 BBC drama The Story of Ruth), and from the early 1990s she devoted much time to volunteer work. She retired from performing in 1995, and has since worked as a psychotherapist offering support to single mothers. She married the writer John Lahr in 2000.

Michael Brooke

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Fawlty Towers (1975, 79)Fawlty Towers (1975, 79)

John Cleese as manic hotelier Basil Fawlty in Britain's greatest sitcom

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

Legendary sketch show that revolutionised TV comedy

Thumbnail image of Why Didn't They Ask Evans? (1980)Why Didn't They Ask Evans? (1980)

Starry mystery that launched a spate of 1980s Agatha Christie adaptations

Related collections

Thumbnail image of Funny Women on TVFunny Women on TV

Comedy with a female slant

Related people and organisations

Thumbnail image of Cleese, John (1939-)Cleese, John (1939-)

Actor, Writer, Director