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Peter Sellers

Richard Henry Sellers (September 8, 1925 - July 24, 1980), better known as Peter Sellers, was a British comedian, talented comic actor and performer on The Goon Show (a long-running BBC radio show - 1951 - 1960). Sellers was born in Southsea, Hampshire, England, in a family of vaudeville entertainers.

Probably following his family in the vaudeville circuit, Sellers learnt this popular yet difficult art and the immediate instinct of the gag. He was an incredibly versatile artist; he was an excellent dancer, a skillful player of the ukulele and banjo and good enough on drums to tour with several jazz bands. He is known to have performed at the Windmill Theatre.

His success was quite slow in coming. He phoned up a television producer pretending to be Kenneth Horne, who was currently in the show Much Binding in the Marsh, in order to get them on the phone.

Sellers' first film successes were in 1959 in the British Ealing comedies, such as I'm All Right Jack and The Mouse That Roared. Sellers is most famous for his role as the bungling Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther movies, which gave him a worldwide audience.

He played many other more challenging parts, notably the triple role consisting of the president of the United States, Dr. Strangelove and an officer of the RAF (the first two appearing in the same room throughout the film) in Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, easily varying from brilliant themes as in The Party, to more intense performances as in Lolita (from Vladimir Nabokov's notorious masterpiece). A late masterpiece for Sellers was the film Being There.

Commonly considered a master actor, sometimes described as an obsessive perfectionist, Sellers found in Blake Edwards a devoted director who could delicately underline and follow his comic rhythms; Edwards defined Sellers as a mercurial clown who could turn comedy into drama, and vice-versa, in an instant.

Other directors Sellers played for include the above mentioned Kubrick, Roman Polanski, Paul Mazursky, and Billy Wilder. He played with many stars, among them Shirley MacLaine, Sophia Loren, Maggie Smith, Goldie Hawn, Shelley Winters, Elke Sommer, Claudine Longet, and even Ringo Starr (The Beatles' drummer). Sellers' early career included radio and television work.

Sellers was married four times. His second marriage was to the Swedish actress Britt Ekland.

Sellers died of a heart attack on July 24, 1980 in London, England and was cremated. In his will he had explicitly requested that Glenn Miller's song In The Mood be played for his funeral; it is considered his last touch of humour, since he deeply hated that tune.

The movie The Trail of the Pink Panther was released posthumously in 1982, containing previously unused footage of Sellers.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2004.

Peter Sellers Facts

Birth NameRichard Henry Sellers
BirthdaySeptember 8, 1925
BirthplaceSouthsea, Hampshire, England, United Kingdom
Date of deathJuly 24, 1980 (age 54)
Height5' 8½" (1m74)  How tall is Peter Sellers compared to you?
Awards1980 Golden Globe Awards: Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical (for Being There)

Selected Filmography

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb
The Pink Panther Collection
Being There
Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Murder By Death
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