Richard Henry Sellers, OBE (1925 - 1980) MP

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Birthdate:
Birthplace: Southsea, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England
Death: Died in London, England
Cause of death: Heart Attack
Occupation: Actor, Comedian, Comedian and Actor
Managed by: Wendy Babot Vandecar
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About Richard Henry Sellers, OBE

(PETER SELLERS) Richard Henry Sellers, OBE (8 September 1925 – 24 July 1980) British Actor, better known as Peter Sellers, was a British comedian and actor best known for his roles in Dr. Strangelove, as Clare Quilty in the original 1962 screen version of Lolita, and as the man-child, Chance the gardener, in his penultimate film, Being There. He is best remembered for his role of inept French police Inspector 'Jacques Clouseau' in the "Pink Panther" series of films (1964 to 1982).

In 1959, he won the British equivalent of an Oscar for his role of 'Fred Kite', a labor leader in "I'm All Right, Now," (1959), and in 1979 he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his role of 'Chance Gardiner' in his film, "Being There" (1979).

Born Richard Henry Sellers in Southsea, Hampshire, England, his parents worked in an acting company run by his grandmother. His father, Yorkshire-born Bill Sellers (1900–1962), was Protestant and his mother, Agnes Doreen 'Peg' née Marks (1892–1967), was Jewish. He was the great-great-grandson of the boxer Daniel Mendoza, his maternal roots in the Sephardic Jewish community that settled in London. [Accaording to GENI Peter Sellers is Daniel 'Abraham' Mendoza's first cousin four times removed. "]

During World War II, he enlisted in the British Army, where he met future actors Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe, and Michael Bentine. Following the war, he set up a review in London, which was a combination of music and impressions (he played the drums), which led to his doing impressions on BBC television's "The Goon Show." Moving rapidly into a series of British comedy films during the mid-1950s, he quickly caught widespread audience appeal, and each successful role led to more and better films.

Following British comic tradition of doing multiple roles in the same play, he was adept at performing multiple roles in his movies, including his hilarious

  • "The Mouse that Roared" (1959) (playing three different parts). The black comedy,
  • "Dr. Strangelove" (1964), (playing an pragmatic RAF officer, a wimpy United States President and a weird German scientist), and
  • "The Prisoner of Zenda" (1979) (playing the roles of Rudolf IV, Rudolf V, and Syd Frewin).

The last of that series, "Trail of the Pink Panther" (1982) was made after his death, using film clips and unseen footage from his earlier "Pink Panther" movies.

He was married four times, to

  • Ann Howe (1951 to 1961)
  • Britt Ekland (1964 to 1968) actress
  • Miranda Quarry (1970 to 1974)
  • Lynn Frederick (1977 to his death in 1980) actress
  • (bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson)

Cause of death: Heart attack

Burial:

Golders Green Crematorium

Golders Green

Greater London, England

Plot: His ashes are buried under a rosebush, plot #39802. The rosebed is located at the far end of the crematorium complex, next to the Chapel of Memory columbarium.


--------------------

Richard Henry Sellers, OBE (8 September 1925 – 24 July 1980), better known as Peter Sellers, was a British[1] comedian and actor best known for his roles in Dr. Strangelove, as Chief Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther film series, as Clare Quilty in the original 1962 screen version of Lolita, and as the man-child, Chance the gardener, in his penultimate film, Being There.

Sellers rose to fame on the BBC Radio comedy series The Goon Show. His ability to speak in different accents (e.g., French, Indian, American, German, as well as British regional accents), along with his talent to portray a range of characters to comic effect, contributed to his success as a radio personality and screen actor and earned him national and international nominations and awards. Many of his characters became ingrained in public perception of his work. Sellers's private life was characterized by turmoil and crises, and included emotional problems and substance abuse. Sellers was married four times, with three children from two of the marriages.

An enigmatic figure, he often claimed to have no identity outside the roles that he played but he left his own portrait since, "he obsessively filmed his homes, his family, people he knew, anything that took his fancy right to the end of his life—intimate film that remained undiscovered until long after his death in 1980."[2] The director Peter Hall has said: "Peter had the ability to identify completely with another person, and think his way physically, mentally and emotionally into their skin. Where does that come from? I have no idea. Is it a curse? Often. I think it's not enough though in this business to have talent. You have to have talent to handle the talent. And that I think Peter did not have."[3]

Early life

Peter Sellers's birthplace on the corner of Castle Road and Southsea terrace, in Southsea. The blue plaques read "Peter Sellers, Actor and Comedian was born here"

Sellers was born in Southsea, Portsmouth, to a family of entertainers. Though christened Richard Henry, his parents always called him Peter, after his elder stillborn brother,[4] and, according to Bryan Forbes, "was, during his formative years, totally smothered in maternal affection". He attended the North London Roman Catholic school, St. Aloysius College, although his father, Yorkshire-born Bill Sellers (1900–1962), was Protestant and his mother, Agnes Doreen 'Peg' née Marks (1892–1967), was Jewish. He was the great-great-grandson of the boxer Daniel Mendoza, his maternal roots in the Sephardic Jewish community that settled in London.[5]

According to Sellers' biographer Roger Lewis, Sellers was intrigued by Catholicism, but soon after entering boarding school, he "discovered he was a Jew—he was someone on the outside of the mysteries of faith." Sellers says that teachers referred to him as "The Jew", which led to his subsequent sensitivity to antisemitic innuendos. Later in his life, Sellers is quoted as saying "My father was solid Church of England but my mother was Jewish—Portuguese Jewish—and Jews take the faith of their mother."[6]

Accompanying his family on the variety show circuit,[4] Sellers learned stagecraft, which proved valuable later. He performed at age five at the burlesque Windmill Theatre in the drama Splash Me!, which featured his mother.[7] However, he grew up with conflicting influences from his parents and developed ambivalent feelings about show business. His father lacked confidence in Peter's abilities to ever become much in the entertainment field, even suggesting that his son's talents were only enough to become a road sweeper, while Sellers' mother encouraged him continually.[4]:18

Sellers got his first job at a theater in Ilfracombe, when he was 15, starting as a janitor. He was steadily promoted, becoming a box office clerk, usher, assistant stage manager, and lighting operator. He was also offered some small acting parts.[4] Working backstage gave him a chance to see serious actors at work, such as Paul Scofield. He also became close friends with Derek Altman, and together they launched Sellers' first stage act under the name "Altman and Sellers," where they played ukuleles, sang, and told jokes. They also both enjoyed reading detective stories by Dashiell Hammett, and were inspired to start their own detective agency. "Their enterprise ended abruptly when a potential client ripped Sellers' fake mustache off."[4]

At his regular job backstage at the theater, Sellers began practising on a set of drums that belonged to the band "Joe Daniels and His Hot Shots." Joe Daniels began noticing his efforts and gave him some practical instructions. Sellers' biographer Ed Sikov writes that "drumming suited him. Banging in time Pete could envelope himself in a world of near-total abstraction, all in the context of a great deal of noise."[4]:20

[edit] World War II period

As war broke out in Europe, Sellers continued to develop his drumming skills, which strongly impressed even his father and landed Sellers his first drumming job with a band in Blackpool.[4]:22

He later enlisted, and during World War II Sellers was an airman in the Royal Air Force, rising to corporal, though he had been restricted to ground staff due to poor eyesight. His tour included India and Burma, although the duration of his stay in Asia is unknown and its length may have been exaggerated by Sellers himself.[4] He also served in Germany and France after the war.[4] As a distraction from the life of a non-commissioned officer, Sellers joined the Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA), which his father had earlier also signed up with, allowing him to hone his drumming and comedy. By the end of the war in 1945, more than four out of five British entertainers had worked for ENSA, whose focus was on boosting morale of soldiers and factory workers.[4]

He occasionally impersonated his superiors,[4] and his portrayal of RAF officer Lionel Mandrake in the film Dr. Strangelove may have been modelled on them. He bluffed his way into the Officers' Mess using mimicry and the occasional false moustache, although as he told Michael Parkinson in the 1972 interview, occasionally older officers would suspect him. The voice of Goon Show character Major Dennis Bloodnok came from this period.

Early career
The Goon Show

Main article: The Goon Show

After his discharge and return to England in 1948, Sellers supported himself with stand-up routines in variety theatres whose impresarios needed to legitimise their business.[4] Sellers telephoned BBC radio producer Roy Speer, pretending to be Kenneth Horne, star of the radio show Much Binding in the Marsh, to get Speer to speak to him.

As a result, Sellers was given an audition, which led to his work on Ray's a Laugh with comedian Ted Ray. His principal radio work was on The Goon Show with Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe and (originally) Michael Bentine. Sellers followed this with television work.

[edit] Records

In the late 1950s, Sellers released two comedy records produced by George Martin: The Best of Sellers and Songs for Swinging Sellers. The Best of Sellers album cover (first released in 10" format in 1958 and his debut LP) pictured him polishing a Rolls Royce motor car. The most popular tracks on this album were "Balham, Gateway to the South" (a parody travelogue) and "Suddenly It's Folksong" where a group of people end up smashing up a pub after a row over someone playing a bum note. The Songs for Swinging Sellers album, released in 1959, contained material written by Frank Muir and Dennis Norden and featured Sellers performing "Puttin on the Style" (a parody of the skiffle movement's performer Lonnie Donegan). He also appeared with guest Irene Handl on the track "Shadows on the Grass" where he plays the part of a Frenchman befriending a lady in the park. Musical direction was by Ron Goodwin.

In 1979 he released a third gatefold album entitled Sellers' Market (the cover shows him standing next to a trader reading the Wall Street Times whereas Sellers is standing similarly reading the Finchley Press) which included comic singing and a feature called the "All England George Formby Finals" where he parodies the late George Formby and his ukelele playing. Also featured was the Complete Guide to Accents of the British Isles. The album was not as popular as his first two in 1958 and 1959 although is still sought after by collectors.[8] All three albums exploited Sellers's ability to use his flexible voice to enormous comedic effect.

Film career

Sellers's film success arrived with British comedies, including The Ladykillers, I'm All Right Jack and The Mouse That Roared. He began receiving international attention for his portrayal of an Indian doctor in The Millionairess with Sophia Loren. The film inspired the George Martin-produced novelty hit single Goodness Gracious Me and its follow-up Bangers and Mash, both featuring Sellers and Loren.

Lolita

In 1962, Stanley Kubrick asked Sellers to play the role of Clare Quilty in Lolita opposite James Mason and Shelly Winters. Kubrick had seen Sellers in his earlier films and was intrigued by his range, also demonstrated during The Goon Show period when Sellers had done impressions of famous people, such as Winston Churchill, the Queen, and Lew Grade.

However, Sellers felt the part of a flamboyant American television playwright was beyond his ability (mainly because he was in his words "a fantastic nightmare, part homosexual, part drug addict, part sadist...") and he became nervous about taking on the role, and many people came up to him and told him they felt the role believable.[9] Kubrick eventually succeeded in persuading Sellers to play the part, however. Kubrick had American jazz musician Norman Granz record Sellers' portions of the script for Sellers to listen to, so he could study the voice and develop confidence.[10]

Unlike most of his earlier well-rehearsed movie roles, Sellers was encouraged by Kubrick to improvise throughout the filming in order to exhaust all the possibilities of his character. Moreover, in order to capture Sellers at his most creative heights, Kubrick often used as many as three cameras. Sellers and Kubrick created the multiple disguises used by Sellers, such as a state trooper and a German psychologist. As filming progressed, the other actors and the crew would notice Sellers' greatly enjoying his acting and, according to Kubrick, reaching "...what can only be described as a state of comic ecstasy".[10] The movie's cinematographer, Oswald Morris further commented that, "the most interesting scenes were the ones with Peter Sellers, which were total improvisations."[10]

Sellers plays three main characters in Dr. Strangelove

Because of this experience, Sellers found that his relationship with Kubrick became one of the most rewarding of his career.[10]

Dr. Strangelove

In Kubrick's next film, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb he asked Sellers to be in the leading role. Sellers played three extremely different characters: U.S. President Merkin Muffley, Dr. Strangelove, a heavily German-accented nuclear scientist, and Group Captain Lionel Mandrake of the RAF. Sellers was initially hesitant about taking on the task, but Kubrick convinced him that there was no better actor that could play these parts.[10]

Muffley and Dr. Strangelove appeared in the same room throughout the film, with the help of Kubrick's special effects. Sellers was originally cast to play a fourth role, as Major T. J. "King" Kong, but couldn't achieve the strong Texas accent required. He also fell and broke his leg, forcing Kubrick to replace the part with Slim Pickens. For his performance in all three roles, Sellers was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. Kubrick again gave Sellers a free rein to improvise throughout the filming. Sellers once said, "If you ask me to play myself, I will not know what to do. I do not know who or what I am."[11]

[edit] Pink Panther

Peter Sellers as Chief Inspector Clouseau in the The Pink Panther

Sellers was cast as the bumbling Chief Inspector Clouseau in the The Pink Panther movies. This character gave Sellers a worldwide audience, beginning with The Pink Panther and its sequel, A Shot in the Dark, in which he featured more prominently. He returned to the character for three more sequels from 1975 to 1978. The Trail of the Pink Panther, containing unused footage of Sellers, was released in 1982, after his death. His widow, Lynne Frederick, successfully sued the film's producers for unauthorized use. Sellers had prepared to star as Chief Inspector Clouseau in another Pink Panther film; he died before the start of this project, Romance of the Pink Panther.

Being There

In 1979, Sellers played the role of Chance, a simple gardener addicted to watching TV, in the black comedy, Being There, considered by some critics to be the "crowning triumph of Peter Sellers's remarkable career,"[12] as well as a great achievement for novelist Jerzy Kosinski. During a BBC interview in 1971, Sellers said that more than anything else, he wanted to play the role of Chance.[12]

Kosinski, the book's author, felt that the novel was never meant to be made into a film, but Sellers succeeded to change Kosinski's mind and allowed Sellers and director Hal Ashby to make the film, provided he could write the script.[12] According to film critic Danny Smith, Sellers was "naturally intrigued with the idea of Chance, a character who reflected whatever was beamed at him".[13]

Sellers's performance was praised by some critics as achieving "the pinpoint-sharp exactitude of nothingness. It is a performance of extraordinary dexterity",[4]:361 and "...[making] the film's fantastic premise credible".[14]

Cover story, March 3, 1980

Sellers's experience of working on the film was both humbling and powerful for him.[13] During the filming, in order not to break his character, he refused most interview requests, and even kept his distance from other actors. He tried to remain in character even after he returned home.[13] Sellers considered Chance's walking and voice the character's most important attributes, and in preparing for the role, Sellers worked alone with a tape recorder, or with his wife, and then with Ashby, to perfect the clear enunciation and flat delivery needed to reveal "the childlike mind behind the words."[13]

Critic Frank Rich noted the acting skill required for this sort of role, with a "schismatic personality that Peter had to convey with strenuous vocal and gestural technique. . . . A lesser actor would have made the character's mental dysfunction flamboyant and drastic. . . . [His] intelligence was always deeper, his onscreen confidence greater, his technique much more finely honed."[14]

Being There earned Sellers his best reviews since the 1960s, a second Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe award. A few months after the film was released, Time magazine wrote a cover-story article about Sellers, entitled, "Who is This Man?" The cover showed many of the characters Sellers had portrayed, including Chance, Quilty, Strangelove, Clouseau, and the Grand Duchess Glorianna XII. Sellers was pleased by the article, written by critic Richard Schickel, and wrote an appreciative letter to the magazine's editor."[4]:373

[edit] Other roles

Director Billy Wilder hired Sellers to co-star with Dean Martin for the ribald 1964 comedy Kiss Me, Stupid, but six weeks into filming, Sellers suffered a heart attack. Wilder replaced him with Ray Walston.

Sellers was a versatile actor, switching from broad comedy, as in The Party, in which he portrayed a bumbling Indian actor Hrundi Bakshi, to more intense performances as in Lolita.

Sellers appeared in an episode of the American television series It Takes a Thief in 1969. By the early 1970s Sellers faced a downturn, however, and was dubbed "box office poison".[15] Sellers never won an Oscar but won the BAFTA for I'm All Right Jack.

Sellers appeared on The Muppet Show television series in 1977. He chose not to appear as himself, instead appearing in a variety of costumes and accents. When Kermit the Frog told Sellers he could relax and be "himself," Sellers (while wearing a Viking helmet, a girdle and one boxing glove, claiming to have attempted to dress as Queen Victoria), replied, "There is no me. I do not exist. There used to be a me, but I had it surgically removed."

Personal life

Sellers had a difficult personal life. He often clashed with actors and directors, including a strained relationship with friend and director Blake Edwards, with whom he worked on the Pink Panther series and The Party. The two sometimes stopped speaking to each other during filming.[4] Sellers's personality was described by others as difficult and demanding. Sellers assaulted Britt Ekland,[4] prompted by jealousy. Sellers sometimes blamed himself for his failed marriages. In a 1974 Parkinson interview, he admitted that "I'm not easy to live with".

His work with Orson Welles on Casino Royale deteriorated as Sellers became jealous of Welles's casual relationship with Princess Margaret. The relationship between the two actors created problems during filming, as Sellers refused to share the set with Welles, who himself was no stranger to strident behaviour. Sellers could be cruel and disrespectful, as demonstrated by his treatment of actress Jo Van Fleet on the set of I Love You, Alice B. Toklas. On one occasion, Van Fleet had declined an invitation to his house, soon followed by a misunderstanding between the two actors during filming. This prompted Sellers to launch a tirade against Van Fleet in front of actors and crew.[4]

Sellers was reticent about discussing his private life. He was invited to appear on Michael Parkinson's eponymous chat show in 1974, but agreed under the condition that he could appear in character. Sellers appeared dressed as a member of the Gestapo, impersonating the Kenneth Mars character in The Producers. After a few lines in keeping with his assumed character, he stepped out of the role and settled down for what is considered one of Parkinson's most memorable interviews.[16]

It has been suggested that Sellers suffered depression spurred by deep-seated anxieties of artistic and personal failure. Some behaviour may have been exacerbated by substance abuse, for Sellers regularly smoked cannabis, drank large amounts of alcohol, and used other recreational drugs. It is believed that his drug use, especially amyl nitrites, contributed to heart attacks in 1964 (see below). Sellers became aware that his frail psyche affected his career and life, but rather than seek professional counselling he opted for periodic consultations with astrologer Maurice Woodruff, who seemed to have held considerable sway over his later career.[4]

Relationships with other celebrities

Sellers had casual friendships with two Beatles, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.[4] Harrison told occasional Sellers stories in interviews, and Starr appeared with him in the anarchic movie The Magic Christian, which was based on Terry Southern's novel and whose theme song was Badfinger's "Come and Get It", written by Paul McCartney. Starr's two-week hiatus from the Beatles during the White Album recordings was spent aboard Sellers's yacht, where he wrote "Octopus's Garden". Starr also gave Sellers a rough mix of songs from the Beatles' White Album; the tape was auctioned and bootlegged after his death. Sellers recorded a cover version of "A Hard Day's Night", in the style of Laurence Olivier's interpretation of Richard III, as well as various versions of "She Loves You", including as Dr. Strangelove, a cockney, and an Irish dentist.

Sellers was the first male to appear on the cover of Playboy magazine.[citation needed]

Sellers's friends included actor and director Roman Polanski, who shared his passion for fast cars. Sellers was a friend of Princess Margaret and had a close relationship with Sophia Loren, which may or may not have been consummated.[4] Sellers was the first[citation needed] man on the cover of Playboy—he appeared on the April 1964 cover with Karen Lynn.

He was a Freemason and belonged to Chelsea Lodge No 3098, a lodge whose membership is made up of celebrities and performers, through which means he socialised with a number of other actors and comedians.[17]

Relationships with the Royal Family

In her autobiography True Britt, Britt Ekland described Sellers' close relationship with the Royal Family. "I was completely unaware of his (Sellers) connection with the British monarchy. One afternoon before we married he had disappeared saying that he had to do something 'important'. I was to learn he had spent afternoon tea with the Queen Mother at Clarence House."[18] According to Ekland, Sellers acted as a rather subservient figure to the Royals, who admired his work but regarded him as somewhat of a court jester.

Obsession with automobiles

Sellers had a lifelong obsession with cars, briefly parodied in a fleeting cameo in the short film Simon Simon, directed by friend Graham Stark. His love for cars was also referenced in The Goon Show episode "The Space Age," where Harry Secombe introduces Sellers by saying, "Good heavens, it's Peter Sellers, who has just broken his own record of keeping a car for more than a month." In "The Last Goon Show of All", announcer Andrew Timothy cued him with "Mr. Sellers will now sell a gross of his cars and take up a dramatic voice."

Marriages

Sellers and Britt Ekland 1964.

Sellers was married four times:

   * Anne Howe (1951–1961). They had two children, Michael and Sarah.
   * Swedish actress Britt Ekland (1964–1968). They had a daughter, Victoria Sellers. The couple appeared in three films together: Carol For Another Christmas (1964), After the Fox (1966) and The Bobo (1967).
   * Australian model Miranda Quarry (now the Countess of Stockton) (1970–1974).
   * English actress Lynne Frederick (1977–1980), who was briefly married to Sir David Frost shortly after Sellers's death.

Again, Spike Milligan wrote this into his scripts, referring in one 1972 radio show to "The Peter Sellers Discarded Wives Memorial". At the time, Sellers was married to Quarry.

[edit] Death

In 1964, at age 38, Sellers suffered a series of heart attacks (13 in a few days), which permanently damaged his heart. Sellers chose to consult with psychic healers rather than seek Western medical treatment, and his heart condition continued to deteriorate over the next 16 years. In 1977, he suffered a second major heart attack, resulting in him being fitted with a pacemaker to regulate his heartbeat.[19] Once again, Sellers refused to slow down nor did he follow doctor's orders and consider open heart surgery, which could have considerably extended his life.[4]

A reunion dinner was scheduled in London with his Goon Show partners, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe, for 25 July 1980. But on 22 July, Sellers collapsed from a massive heart attack in his Dorchester Hotel room and fell into a coma. He died in a London hospital just after midnight on 24 July 1980, aged 54. He was survived by his fourth wife, Lynne Frederick, and three children: Michael, Sarah and Victoria. At the time of his death, he was scheduled to undergo heart surgery in Los Angeles on 30 July.[4]

Although Sellers was reportedly in the process of excluding Frederick from his will a week before he died, she inherited almost his entire estate worth an estimated £4.5 million while his children received £800 each.[4] When Frederick died in 1994 (aged 39), her mother Iris inherited everything, including all of the income and royalties from Sellers's work. When Iris dies the whole estate will go to Cassie, the daughter Lynne had with her third husband, Barry Unger. Sellers's only son, Michael, died of a heart attack at 52 during surgery on 24 July 2006 (26 years to the day after his father's death).[20] Michael was survived by his second wife, Alison, whom he married in 1986, and their two children.

In his will, Sellers requested that the Glenn Miller song "In the Mood" be played at his funeral. The request is considered his last touch of humour, as he hated the piece.[21] His body was cremated and he was interred at Golders Green Crematorium in London. After her death in 1994, the ashes of his widow Lynne were co-interred with his.[22]

Legacy and influence

The film Trail of the Pink Panther, made by Blake Edwards using unused footage of Sellers from The Pink Panther Strikes Again, is dedicated to Sellers's memory. The title reads "To Peter ... The one and only Inspector Clouseau."

In a 2005 poll to find "The Comedian's Comedian", Sellers was voted 14 in the list of the top 20 greatest comedians by fellow comedians and comedy insiders.[23] British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen frequently referred to Peter Sellers "as the most seminal force in shaping his early ideas on comedy". Cohen was considered for the role of the biopic, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (the role went to Australian actor Geoffrey Rush).[24]

Filmography

Year Film Role Notes

1950 The Black Rose Alfonso Bedoya Voice (uncredited)

1951 Penny Points to Paradise The Major/Arnold Fringe

Let's Go Crazy Groucho/Giuseppe/Cedric

/Izzy/Gozzunk/Crystal Jollibottom

1952 Down Among the Z Men Major Bloodnok

1953 Our Girl Friday Parrot Voice (uncredited)

1954 Orders are Orders Private Griffin

1955 John and Julie Police Constable Diamond

The Ladykillers Mr. Robinson

1956 The Case of the Mukkinese Battle Horn Narrator/Supt. Quilt

/Asst. Commissioner Sir Jervis Fruit/Henry Crun

The Man Who Never Was Winston Churchill Voice only

1957 Insomnia Is Good for You Hector Dimwiddle Short film

The Smallest Show on Earth Leslie Quill

The Naked Truth Sonny McGregor

1958 Up the Creek CPO Doherty

tom thumb Antony

1959 Carlton-Browne of the F.O. Prime Minister Amphibulos

The Mouse That Roared Grand Duchess Gloriana XII / Prime Minister

Count Rupert Mountjoy / Tully Bascombe Three roles.

I'm All Right Jack Fred Kite BAFTA Award for Best British Actor

The Battle of the Sexes Mr. Martin

1960 The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film Photographer Short

San Francisco International Film Festival Award for Best Fiction Short

Nominated — Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film

Never Let Go Lionel Meadows

The Millionairess Dr. Ahmed el Kabir

Two Way Stretch Dodger Lane

1961 Mr. Topaze Auguste Topaze

1962 Only Two Can Play John Lewis Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best British Actor

Waltz of the Toreadors General Leo Fitzjohn San Sebastián International Film Festival Award for Best Actor

The Road to Hong Kong Indian Neurologist uncredited

Lolita Clare Quilty Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture

Trial and Error Wilfred Morgenhall

1963 The Wrong Arm of the Law Pearly Gates

Heavens Above! The Reverend John Smallwood

The Pink Panther Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau First in the Pink Panther series

Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best British Actor

Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy

1964 Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb Group Captain Lionel Mandrake / President Merkin Muffley / Dr. Strangelove Three roles

Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor

Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best British Actor

The World of Henry Orient Henry Orient

A Shot in the Dark Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau Sequel to the Pink Panther

1965 Birds, Bees and Storks Narrator Voice

What's New Pussycat Doctor Fritz Fassbender

1966 The Wrong Box Doctor Pratt

After the Fox Aldo Vanucci

1967 Casino Royale Evelyn Tremble

Woman Times Seven Jean

The Bobo Juan Bautista

1968 The Party Hrundi V. Bakshi

I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! Harold

1969 The Magic Christian Sir Guy Grand KG, KC, CBE

1970 A Day at the Beach Salesman

Hoffman Benjamin Hoffman

Simon, Simon Man with two cars

There's a Girl in My Soup Robert Danvers

1972 Where Does It Hurt? Dr. Albert T. Hopfnagel

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland The March Hare

1973 Ghost in the Noonday Sun Dick Scratcher

The Blockhouse Rouquet

The Optimists Sam

1974 Soft Beds, Hard Battles Général Latour / Major Robinson / Herr Schroeder

/ Adolf Hitler / The President / Prince Kyoto Played six roles.

The Great McGonagall Queen Victoria

1975 The Return of the Pink Panther Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau Third film by Sellers in the Pink Panther series

Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actor

Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy

1976 Murder by Death Sidney Wang

The Pink Panther Strikes Again Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau Fourth film by Sellers in the Pink Panther series

Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy

1978 The Muppet Show Various characters, including an Inspector Clouseau-like character, a gypsy, Queen Victoria, a masseur, and a preacher. Episode 43 originally aired February 27, 1978 in New York, and February 24, 1978 in Los Angeles

Kingdom of Gifts Larcenous Mayor Voice only

Revenge of the Pink Panther Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau Fifth film by Sellers in the Pink Panther series

1979 The Prisoner of Zenda Rudolf IV / Rudolf V / Syd Frewin Played three roles.

Being There Chance Fotogramas de Plata for Best Foreign Performance

Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy

London Film Critics Circle Special Award

National Board of Review Award for Best Actor

Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor

Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best British Actor

1980 The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu Dennis Nayland Smith / Dr. Fu 'Fred' Manchu Last film. Played two roles.

1982 Trail of the Pink Panther Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau Footage of Sellers used.

[edit] Comedy singles

Sellers released several comedy singles, many of them produced by George Martin and released on the Parlophone record label. These include the following hits:

   * "Any Old Iron" (1957) UK # 17
   * "Goodness Gracious Me" (1960) with Sophia Loren UK # 4
   * "Bangers and Mash" (1961), a follow-up also featuring Sophia Loren UK # 22
   * "A Hard Day's Night" (1965) UK # 14. This consisted of him speaking the lyrics using the stereotypical voice of an actor playing Shakespeare's Richard III. He also performed the song in costume on television. The recording was re-issued in 1993 and reached Number 52 in the UK Top 75 Singles chart.

He covered several other Beatles hits, including "Help!" and "She Loves You". Sellers also recorded a parody version of "Unchained Melody", which long went unreleased.

When asked in 1960 what he thought the music business would be like in ten years time, Sellers retorted -

“ Ten years older ! ”

NME - November 1960[25]

Albums

Peter Sellers made several albums, mostly of comedy pieces using his talent for voices.

Discography:

   * The Best of Sellers (1959) UK # 3
   * Songs For Swinging Sellers (1959) UK # 3
   * Peter & Sophia (1960) UK # 5 with Sophia Loren
   * Fool Britannia (1963) UK # 10 with Anthony Newley and Joan Collins.
   * How To Win An Election (1964) UK # 20 with Harry Secombe and Spike Milligan (Note: unlike The Last Goon Show Of All this release was not credited to The Goons.)
   * He's Innocent of Watergate (1974) with Spike Milligan
view all 12

Peter Sellers's Timeline

1925
September 8, 1925
Southsea, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England
1951
September 15, 1951
Age 26
London, England
1954
April 2, 1954
Age 28
Marylebone, London, England
1964
February 19, 1964
Age 38
London, England
1968
1968
Age 42
1970
August 24, 1970
Age 44
Westminster, London, England
1977
February 18, 1977
Age 51
London, England
1980
July 24, 1980
Age 54
London, England

<The Times July 25, 1980>

MR PETER SELLERS

Comic genius of the cinema screen Mr Peter Sellers, CBE, who died
yesterday at the age of 54, had a career, which took him via the
British cinema to an international stardom more spectacular, perhaps,
and certainly more meteoric than that of any other British star.
Though he had been a comedian, making his way in his profession by the
usual stages on radio and television, it was as an actor that he
became so rapidly and overwhelmingly popular with the British
filmgoing public, afterwards progressing to become internationally
acclaimed. He was a comic actor first and foremost, no doubt, but an
actor always first and a comedian incidentally.

His background was theatrical, though more on the management than the
performing side. He was born in Southsea on September 8, 1925, and
descended from the Portuguese-Jewish prizefighter Daniel Mendoza; one
of his first jobs was sweeping out the seaside theatre run by his
parents and later he began in a small way as a comedian and
impressionist with Ensa, followed by a stint, almost obligatory for
the budding English comic, at the Windmill. His extraordinary vocal
adaptability soon found him a niche in radio, and in 1951 he met Spike
Milligan, whose very personal brand of comedy matched and complemented
his own. From this meeting sprang the "Goon Show", in which Peter
Sellers, as one of the team, provided funny voices and off-the-cuff
gags week by week to the pleasure of millions - an activity later,
though rather less successfully, extended to television with "A Show
Called Fred" and "The Idiot Weekly".

All this time he remained very much one member of a group, popular
certainly but hardly known as an individual. And when he first
ventured into films it was mainly his gifts as a mimic which were
called upon; he was noticed in small roles - as one of the bunch of
weird murderers in "The Ladykillers", as an elderly member of the
cinema staff in "The Smallest Show on Earth" - but seemed likely to
remain one of the large band of capable character actors the British
cinema has always had on call. The film that really changed things,
though, was the Boulting Brothers' "I'm All Right Jack", in which his
playing of the pompous, pathetic shop steward Kite, a masterpiece of
precise observation, funny because of its truth rather than in spite
of it, gathered him enthusiastic notices and made him almost
immediately one of the busiest actors of his generation.

His rate of activity after that was positively dizzying. Apart from
one brief appearance on the West End state, in the comedy "Brouhaha",
he devoted almost all his time and energy to film-making, going from
one film to another with hardly a break between. The emphasis of
nearly all his performances was primarily comic, and his one
completely straight role as the sadistic crook in "Never Let Go", was
not a great success, though this might be attributed more to the film
than to the performer. But within generally comic terms of definition
his variety of characterization was extraordinary. He said of himself
once that he had no marked personality, was in fact virtually
unnoticeable, and needed a strongly defined character to play. For
this reason he was arguably less at home in farce, where sometimes his
thoughtfulness cut against the general grain of the entertainment, but
in comedy or tragi-comedy he was unbeatable. His indian doctor in "The
Millionairess", for instance, stayed just on the right side of
caricature and remained always a believable, even if often a very
funny man. The woman chasing Welsh librarian in "Only Two Can Play",
the pernickety old Scotsman in "The Battle of the Sexes", the smooth
Levantine politician in "Carleton Brown of the F.O.", his tour de
force as three distinct characters in "The Mouse that Roared", the
aging general in "The Waltz of the Toreadors", all these were distinct
and believable characterizations, and whatever the varying merits of
the films that contained them they at least were almost wholly
persuasive.

He branched out once into direction, with his film of Marcel Pagnol's
"M Topaze", in which he also played the small French schoolmaster who
becomes a big tycoon, and although the film was less popularly
successful than most of his it suggested a distinct talent for
direction which could have borne further exploration. Subsequent films
were "Lolita", in which he played the mysterious and sinister Quilty,
"Heavens Above", in which he was seen as a cleric who tries to live
literally by christian principles in an unchristian world; "The Pink
Panther", in which he took the part of an eccentric and divertingly
inefficient French detective. To this character he returned in 1975
with "The Return of the Pink Panther", and "The Pink Panther Strikes
Again" (1977).

His international reputation had been more firmly secured by films
like "I Love You Alice B. Toklas" (1968), and "What's New Pussycat?"
He was made a CBE in 1966.

His last film "Being There", in which he gave one of his most
accomplished performances, came to London earlier this month.

Though he claimed that he was not funny in himself, he succeeded on
the screen in amusing audiences the world over; his timing was
impeccable, and his insistence in always finding comedy in the truth
about the characters he played allowed his brand of humour to
transcend barriers of language and nationality. He was one of the very
rare British film stars to be almost as popular abroad as at home.

He had one son and one daughter by his first marriage in 1951 to Anne
Howe. This marriage was dissolved and in 1964 he married Britt Ekland.
They had one daughter. This marriage was dissolved in 1969 and in 1970
he married Miranda, daughter of Richard St John Quarry and Lady
Mancroft. This marriage was dissolved in 1974, and he married in
February, 1977, Lynne Frederick.

end.