Michael has announced his beloved wife Helen has sadly died after suffering with chronic pain and kidney failure, just weeks after their 57th wedding anniversary.
The actor, 79, confirmed the devastating news in a post shared to his official website on Tuesday, announcing that Helen had died in the early hours of the morning.
He described her as the ‘bedrock of my life’ and said her death was an ‘indescribable loss’ for himself and their three children – Thomas, 54, William, 52, and Rachel, 48.
The Monty Python star shared that Helen had been suffering with chronic pain for a few years previously and had been diagnosed with kidney failure before her death.
The couple met when they were just 16 years old and married years later in 1966, marking their 57th wedding anniversary mere weeks before Helen passed away.
Loss: Michael has announced his beloved wife Helen (both pictured in April 2005) has sadly died after suffering with chronic pain and kidney failure
Sad news: The actor, 79, confirmed the devastating news in a post shared to his official website on Tuesday, announcing that Helen had died in the early hours of the morning
Grief: He described her as the ‘bedrock of my life’ and said her death was an ‘indescribable loss’ for himself and their three children – Thomas, 54, William, 52, and Rachel, 48
Announcing the news on his blog, Michael shared a selfie of them together and wrote: ‘My dearest wife Helen died peacefully in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
‘She had been suffering with chronic pain for several years, which was compounded a few years ago by a diagnosis of kidney failure.
‘We first met on a summer holiday on the Suffolk coast when we were both sixteen and we married in our early twenties. Two and a half weeks ago we celebrated our 57th wedding anniversary.
‘Her death is an indescribable loss for myself, our three children and four grandchildren.
‘Helen was the bedrock of my life. Her quietly wise judgment informed all my decisions and her humour and practical good sense was was at the heart of our life together.
‘The family ask that their privacy be respected at this time.’
Last September, Michael spoke about Helen’s ill-health as he shared that she had been moved into respite care from the home they had shared for 50 years.
He explained that she had not been responding to medication for her chronic pain, saying they had moved her to help her ‘manage’ her symptoms.
Wedding: Michael and Helen married in 1966 (pictured) when they were in their early 20s after a six-year relationship
Relationship: The couple (pictured in 1989) met when they were just 16 years old and marked their 57th wedding anniversary just weeks before Helen’s death
Health: Michael shared that Helen (pictured in 2015) had been suffering with chronic pain for a few years and had been diagnosed with kidney failure before her death
Family: During their 57-year marriage, the childhood sweethearts went on to welcome three children together – Thomas, 54, William, 52, and Rachel, 48 (pictured in 1980)
The comedian told the Telegraph at the time: ‘I don’t think you can cure it, but they will help her manage it.
‘It’s such a bore. She was so active and still is mentally. But the body is declining. We live life with our fingers crossed.’
Michael and Helen met as teenagers when they were both on summer holidays to Southwold, Suffolk, where they were staying in neighbouring cottages with their families.
He described Helen as a ‘vision of rebellion’ when he first met her and admitted their romance quickly blossomed, according to The Telegraph.
Michael was living in Sheffield at the time while Helen was in Cambridgeshire, but the pair remained in touch by writing letters and met up the following summer.
They were then reunited on Michael’s first day at Oxford University, where Helen was visiting her friend for the weekend, with fate bringing them together once again.
Recalling the reunion, Michael said: ‘You can see fate was actually tightening the screws on us very hard at that time.’
They went on to tie the knot in 1966 and while Michael turned to a career in comedy, Helen worked as a teacher before becoming a bereavement counsellor.
During their 57-year marriage, the childhood sweethearts went on to welcome three children together and have four beloved grandchildren.
Speaking about his family life to MailOnline in 2012, Michael also shared how he spent his day-to-day life with his wife Helen as he gave an insight into his marriage.
He told how he collects stamps, drinks sensibly jogs daily on Hampstead Heath and would sooner run up and down Oxford Street with his underpants on his head than cheat on Helen.
Gushing over his wife, he said: ‘I was lucky to find somebody early on when I was in my teens who I got on with really well and still get on with really well. It sort of works better as it goes along. You build up layers of experience.’
Speaking about his love for travel, he went on: ‘Helen’s always been really tolerant of my travels. If she said, “You’ve got to stay home” she’d just have a frustrated man kicking chairs in the kitchen and looking at atlases.
‘So she’s always been very happy to let me go. I see no reason to rupture such an extraordinary relationship. I don’t like a life that’s edgy and uncomfortable. I’m restless in other ways – in terms of work.’
In recent years, Michael has addressed his health and recently spoke about undergoing heart surgery in 2019 amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
In December 2020, Michael compared the coronavirus lockdown to a ‘huge doctor’s note’ following his operation.
He said he accepted having to remain in his home quite happily, particularly after being away while filming his show Travels of a Lifetime.
Speaking to Radio Times, he said: ‘The great surprise is that I’ve been extremely content to be in the same place for some time.
‘I had heart surgery last September and was told to have rest and recuperation – then lockdown came along. I accepted it rather happily, it’s been like a huge doctor’s note.
‘Anyway, coming home has always been the best part of the process. We live near Hampstead Heath in London and near friends.’
Candid: Last September, Michael (pictured in 2009) spoke about Helen’s ill-health as he shared that she had been moved into respite care from the home they had shared for 50 years
Romance: Michael and Helen (pictured in July 1993) first met when they were both on a summer holiday on the Suffolk coast as teenagers and married after a six-year relationship
Relationship: The couple (pictured in January 1986) also have four grandchildren
Michael had previously admitted how his recent heart scare reminded him that his body ‘isn’t indestructible’.
He underwent a heart operation to fix a ‘leaky mitral valve’ after he was advised by doctors to have it repaired.
He penned on his blog: ‘My heart scare reminded me that my body isn’t indestructible and if I want to keep it that way I must know when to stop working as well as when to start again.
‘Over the last year I discovered a rather enjoyable equilibrium, a balance between work and relaxation that for the first time in my life favoured the latter.’
He added: ‘After forty years I’ve given up running, and taken to long walks instead. Running was a a fierce and competitive fight with myself, justified largely by how good I felt afterwards. Walking is something to enjoy at the time.’
The mitral valve is a small flap in the heart that stops blood flowing the wrong way. If damaged, it can affect how blood flows around the body.
A ‘leaky’ mitral valve is the nickname for a condition called mitral regurgitation, when it doesn’t close tightly enough and blood goes the wrong way.
This puts a strain on the heart and often causes symptoms such as breathlessness and fatigue, according to Harvard Medical School.
Michael is best known for being a member of the Monty Python comedy group alongside Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle and Terry Jones.
They rose to fame on the sketch comedy series Monty Python’s Flying Circus and went on to find success with the Monty Python film series – including 1975’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
However, Michael’s eldest son Tom has previously revealed how he ignored the popular series’ existence for most of his life because he didn’t get the humour.
Tom was surrounded by his father’s colleagues during his childhood and was even joined them on a trip to Tunisia as a child, where Michael was filming Life of Brian.
But in 2015, Tom confessed that it wasn’t until he grew up that he could appreciate the group’s unique humour, admitting that as a young boy he ‘just didn’t get’ his father’s famed one-liners.
In a joint interview with his father for The Sunday Times Magazine, Tom said he thought his father’s jokes were boring and preferred watching rival comedy group The Goodies.
‘There was a time – back when I thought I had to fill the shoes of a very famous man – when I denied being Michael Palin’s son,’ he said.
Comedy: Michael is best known for being a member of the Monty Python comedy group alongside Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle and Terry Jones
Not a fan! However, Michael’s eldest son Tom (pictured in 1980) has previously revealed how he ignored the popular series’ existence for most of his life because he didn’t get the humour
Kids: Tom was joined by siblings William and Rachel in the nonchalant attitude towards Michael’s successful career. Pictured: Michael with Tom and William in 1973
‘What an idiot! Yes he’s famous, but he’s famous for being funny and a really nice bloke. I’m so lucky.’
Tom was joined by siblings William and Rachel in the nonchalant attitude towards Michael’s successful career.
As well as helping to write the films and series, Michael appeared in some of the most famous Monty Python sketches, including the beloved Dead Parrot and The Spanish Inquisition spoofs.
The comedy genius also picked up a BAFTA Award for his role as Ken Pile in cult 80s movie A Fish Called Wanda.