|Date of Birth
||29 March 1943
|Place of Birth
||South Shields, Tyne and Wear, England, UK
While in Cambridge, Eric Idle met future Monty Python mates Graham Chapman and John Cleese, who the three were at the time members of the prestigious Cambridge University Footlights Club. He joined the comedy troupe in 1963 and became the Footlights President in 1965. Idle continued to make his professional stage debut in “One for the Pot” in 1965 and his television acting debut as the transport in Ken Russell’s “Isadora: The Biggest Dancer in the World,” the next year. Idle teamed up with Terry Jones and Michael Palin, as well as Cleese and Chapman for the British TV series “The Frost Report” (1966-1967, starred David Frost), where they were all contributing writers. He next worked with Chapman and Barry Cryer on scripts for the comedy series “No-that’s Me Over Here!” (1967-1968, starred Ronnie Corbrett) and with Palin and Jones for the children’s TV comedy series “Do Not Adjust Your Set” (1967-1969, also costarred in the show). In 1969, Idle co-founded the famous Monty Python comedy troupe along with Cleese, Chapman, Palin, Jones and American animation specialist Terry Gilliam.
From 1969 to 1970 and from 1972 to 1974, Idle scored success as performer and co-writer on the popular television series “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” which was rebroadcast in the Unite States by PBS in 1974. A loyal Python, he kept on working with his group in their many features films, such as 1971’s And Now for Something Completely Different, 1972’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail (played thirteen different characters) and 1979’s Monty Python’s Life of Brian, in which Idle was remarkable for portraying Stan Called Loretta, a baffled member of the Peoples’ Front of Judea, and philosophically sang “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” (which he also penned) while being crucified, and 1983’s Monty Python’s Meaning of Life. He also contributed to Monty Python’s many TV specials and book projects.
Along the way, Idle continued to pursue his solo career. He wrote and starred in the comedy series “Rutland Weekend Television” (1975), published his first book, titled “Hello Sailor” (1975), hosted the NBC sketch show “Saturday Night Live” (1976) and co-directed, wrote and co-starred in the NBC special The Rutles: All You Need is Cash (1978). Next, he guest starred with Peter Noone in a 1980 episode of ABC’s “Laverne and Shirley,” where both were cast as British rock stars, helmed and penned “The Tale of The Frog Prince” (1982), the first episode of Showtime’s “Faerie Tale Theatre,” starring Robin Williams and Teri Garr, and wrote his first stage play called “Pass the Butler” (1982).
In 1985, Idle attracted the attention of public with his memorable cameo role as an accident-prone bike rider on National Lampoon’s European Vacation, a comedy feature directed by Amy Heckerling and starring Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angel. The following years he played the voice role of Wreck-Gar in the animated film The Transformers: The Movie (1986), starred as Ko-Ko in the musical television film The Mikado (1987), shared the screen with John Neville, Sarah Polley and Oliver Reed in the Terry Gilliam-helmed lavish commercial failure The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988), acted as snobbish ghost Grant Pritchard in the short-lived NBC fantasy sitcom “Nearly Departed” (1989) and played Jean Passepartout in the NBC miniseries “Around the World in 80 Days” (1989), costarring with Pierce Brosnan.
Idle acted along side Robbie Coltrane for HandMade Films called Nuns on the Run (1990), starred in the Leonard Stern comedy Missing Pices (1991) and appeared with writer/director/actor Robert Downey Jr. in the comedy Too Much Sun (1991) before returning to British sitcom with “One Foot in the Grave” (1990-1992), serving as writer and performer. After Mom and Dad Save the World (1992), Idle acted with Cleese for Splitting Heirs, a mistaken comedy film he also wrote and executive produced, had supporting role as Paul ‘Dibbs’ Plutzker in Casper (1995) and rejoined with Python’s three other surviving Brits Jones (as Toad), Cleese (as Toad’s Lawyer) and Palin (The Sun) in The Wind and the Willows (1996), a live-action version adapted and helmed by Jones. The actor had a title role in An Alan Smithee film: Burn Hollywood Burn (1998), and provided the voice of Evil Martin in the straight-to-video animation release the Secret of Nimh II: Timmy and Slyly the Fox for the animated film Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie (1998), which received limited release in theaters. Also in 1998, he contributed vocal talent to the animated movie Quest for Camelot, providing the singing voice of the two-headed dragon Devon.
The multitalented British performer ended up the decade by doing several voice-overs, such as voicing Parenthesis for the direct-to-video release Hercules: Zero to Hero, Pluto Angel in the TV series “Mickey Mouse Works” and Dr. Vosknocker on the movie South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut. He also could be seen acting in such projects as the movie Journey Into Your Imagination and Dudley Do-Right, the short Pirates: 3D Show and the musical stage production of “The Seussical.” Idle also found himself joining the cast of the NBC sitcom “Suddenly Susan,” portraying series regular Ian Maxtone-Graham, an unconventional, former publishing whiz-kid who became Brooke Shield’s new boss, until 2000.
After appearing in the 25-minute short Brightness (2000), Idle went on to build a busy side career as a voice actor by voicing Waddlesworth in the animated 102 Dalmations (2000), Pluto Angel in four episodes of the animated series “House of Mouse” (2001) and Medoro in the American version of Roberto Benigni’s Pinocchio (2002). He then acted in the made-for-TV films The Scream Team (2002) and Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure (2003), made a cameo appearance as a celebrity in the Harrison Ford thriller Hollywood Homicide (2003), and returned to voice over work as the narrator for the 2004 Ella Enchanted, a comedy/fantasy film starring Anne Hathaway. On the small screen, he voiced Declan Desmond in three episodes of “The Simpsons” (2003-2004) and Scrapperton in episodes of “Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!”(2004-2005).
In 2005, Idle wrote and composed the well-received Broadway musical “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” directed by Mike Nichols and starring David Hyde Pierce, Hank Azaria and Tim Curry. Shortly after the show’s debut, it nabbed three Tony awards, including Best Musical, Best Director and a Best Supporting Actress award for its scene-stealing breakout star Sara Ramirez, and twelve Drama Desk nominations. As for Idle, he earned a Tony nod for Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score.
Currently, Idle is working in two 2007 animated films, Shrek the Third, as Merlin, and Delgo, as Spig.