Connie Booth is an American actress and writer best known for her work in the 1960s and 70s with her ex-husband, John Cleese, both on his show Monty Python's Flying Circus and on their sitcom, which they co-created, co-wrote, and co-starred in, Fawlty Towers.
Connie Booth was born in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1944 to a Wall Street mogul and an actress. She, too, began acting on stage and moved to New York to try her hand at Broadway. While a waitress in the 1960s, she met John Cleese, who had been travelling in America as part of a revue and had stayed on there. She and Cleese were married, and she moved with him back to England.
While Cleese started work in Monty Python's Flying Circus, Booth was a constant fixture at the sets. She was well-liked by the other members of Monty Python, in part because, during the recording of the earliest episodes, her distinctive laugh was one of the few they heard from the studio audience. They later had her play several supporting roles, both in the series and in their first original film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, as a witch accused of turning a man into a newt.
Feeling that he wasn't spending enough time with her and with their daughter Cynthia—born in 1971—Cleese left the show before its fourth season. They collaborated on a film, Romance with a Double Bass. Cleese demanded that his next project also be in collaboration with Booth. The BBC agreed, and together they wrote and created Fawlty Towers. Besides writing every episode together, Cleese played hotel manager Basil Fawlty, and Booth played the waitress, Polly Sherman. The response to the show was at first underwhelming, but by the time of the rebroadcast of the first season, it had become a cult smash hit.
In 1978, Cleese and Booth suffered a painful divorce after ten years of marriage. Around the same time, vicious rumors were spreading regarding her pay for her work on Fawlty Towers. Despite this, Cleese and Booth would collaborate again on a second season of Fawlty Towers before going their separate ways.
Throughout the 80s and 90s, she found other work in British films and TV, often playing an American. During this time, she avoided any association with Fawlty Towers and shunned interviews about it. She was also the victim of more rumors, which she denied—this time that she was a lesbian and had had an illicit affair with Cleese's sister.
At the start of the 21st century, she retired from acting and went into relative seclusion as a psychotherapist. She now lives in a small English town with her husband, theater critic John Lahr, and spends most of her time counselling new mothers—particularly those from foreign countries, just as she once was.
|Fawlty Towers||Polly Sherman||1975, 1979||1||2|
|Yû Yû Hakusho||Additional Voices (English version)||2002-2006||1||2||3||4|
Guest Starring Roles
Specials and Made-for-TV Movies
|How to Irritate People||Various characters||January 21, 1969|
|Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus||Various characters||January 3, 1972||Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus|
|Spaghetti Two Step||February 27, 1977|
|The Mermaid Frolics||Various characters||September 10, 1977||The Secret Policeman's Ball|
|Off to Philadelphia in the Morning||Jane Parry||September 12, 1978|
|Thank You Comrades||Annie||December 19, 1978|
|Why Didn't They Ask Evans?||Sylvia Bassington-ffrench||March 30, 1980|
|Deadly Game||Helen Trapp||1982|
|Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles||Laura Lyons||November 3, 1983|
|Nairobi Affair||Mrs. Gardener||October 17, 1984|
|Rocket to the Moon||Belle Stark||May 5, 1986|
|Every Breath You Take||Imogen||1987|
|The Return of Sherlock Holmes||Violet||January 10, 1987|
|The World of Eddie Weary||Madge||1990|
|For the Greater Good||Naomi Balliol||March 20, 1991|
|Smack and Thistle||Ms Kane||May 1991|
|Faith||Pat Harbinson||September 7, 1994|
Notable Film Roles
- And Now for Something Completely Different (1971): Best Girl
- Romance with a Double Bass (1974): Princess Costanza
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975): The Witch
- 84 Charing Cross Road (1987): The Lady from Delaware
- American Friends (1991): Caroline Hartley
Notable Films Written
- Fawlty Towers (1975)
- Fawlty Towers
- 1x03 - The Wedding Party: Basil Fawlty catches Polly kissing a guest, and he assumes she is having an affair. In fact, the guest is the stepfather of an old college friend. Basil nearly fires Polly, until Sybil tells him the truth.
- 1x05 - Gourmet Night: With the chef drunk on the night of a gourmet dinner thrown for the elite of Torquay, Polly desperately tries to tell Basil the situation without alarming the guests. "He's potted... the shrimps," she tells Basil. "He's soused!... The herrings. ... He's pickled... the onions, and he's smashed... the eggs in his cups... under the table!"
- 2x01 - Communication Problems: Sybil has seen Polly counting money Basil won on a horse, which Basil is forbidden to do. To protect Basil, Polly claims it is her money, but when Sybil asks Polly the name of the horse, Basil and Polly engage in a furious game of charades until Polly comes up with the name "Dragonfly."