BOYSTOWN — British actor John Cleese stopped by the Center on Halsted for a surprise visit Thursday.
Cleese, best known for co-founding Monty Python and his roles in two James Bond films, brought bouquets of flowers to the LGBT center in a moment of support following the tragic Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting Sunday.
The British icon partnered with Chicago's chapter of Random Acts of Flowers, based in Evanston. The organization takes flowers from local shops and grocery stores and gives them to hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation and hospice centers.
"The idea of taking these flowers that would otherwise just be tossed away and taking them to people in hospitals, hospices, where they're feeling a bit lonely, I just thought it was a wonderful, simple idea," Cleese said.
Cleese is in town for his brother-in-law's wedding Friday. But he agreed to help spread the word about Random Acts of Flowers, which just opened a Chicago chapter in January 2015. Since then, it has delivered bouquets to 25,000 people.
Chicago executive director Joanie Bayhack worked for Cleese 40 years ago, and said he was happy to stop by the center with her to deliver the flowers.
John Cleese visited the Center on Halsted Thursday to deliver bouquets of flowers in support of the LGBTQ community. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
"I just thought, 'What a marvelous idea,'" Cleese said. "Flowers have a very good effect on human beings. Being around flowers, animals, nature — it's good for us. It makes us healthier."
Cleese spent about half an hour speaking with Center on Halsted patrons. He also paused to sign a blanket filled with messages of hope for victims of the Orlando shooting.
Cleese, 76, has a career in show business that spans 50 years. His earlier work with Monty Python launched him into the lead role in the British show "Fawlty Towers," followed by "3rd Rock from the Sun" and the Oscar-winning "A Fish Called Wanda."
Millennials will likely recognize Cleese for some of his later roles, like playing Nearly-Headless Nick in the "Harry Potter" movies. He's also enjoyed some quality voice-over roles, including King Harold in the "Shrek" series, Jean-Bob the frog in "The Swan Princess" and an ape named 'Ape' in "George of the Jungle."
John Cleese wrote a message in support of victims of the Orlando shooting during his visit to the Center on Halsted Thursday. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
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