For me, as with so many things, I knew Professor Stephen Hawking best for his work with Monty Python.
Professor Hawking was one of those rare scientists who, in addition to incredible scientific achievements, managed to achieve mainstream recognition against all odds. In addition to his success as a bestselling author, lots of people instantly recognize him for his appearances on “The Big Bang Theory,” “The Simpsons,” and “Star Trek.”
The night I met the Professor was, admittedly, a bit hectic. My son Morgan and I were backstage at the O2 in London for the final night of Monty Python, and there was even more activity than usual. A TV crew was setting up for a live broadcast, and friends, family, celebrities, and other hangers-on were packed into a reception room. But the crowd parted when the Professor was brought in, and we found ourselves standing next to him.
I’m always grateful that Morgan was able to talk to him and tell him about his school. I don’t know how interested the Professor was, but it sure did a great job of inspiring Morgan. And, that’s where I was able to get a photo of the two of them together.
Later that night, after the show, I had a chance to speak to him myself, and tell him a few of my Python-related stories. I don’t know what the Professor thought, but I was able to make his assistants laugh, so I’ll take that as a win. And for the Professor to live as long as he did, and contribute so much to the world—well, I’ll take that as a win for the world.
R.I.P. Stephen Hawking.