54 (passed away Jul. 24th, 1980)
Sep. 8th, 1925
Southsea, Hampshire, England, UK
Peter Sellers' Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Often credited as the greatest comedian of all time, Peter Sellers was born to a well-off English acting family in 1925. His mother and father worked in an acting company run by his grandmother. As a child, Sellers was spoiled, as his parents' first child had died at birth. He enlisted in the Royal Air Force and served during World War II. After the war he met Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe and Michael Bentine, who would become his future workmates. After the war he set up a review in London, which was a combination of music (he played the drums) and impressions. Then, all of a sudden, he burst into prominence as the voices of numerous favorites on "The Goon Show" (1951-1960), making his debut in films in Penny Points to Paradise (1951) and Down Among the Z Men (1952), before making it big as one of the criminals in The Ladykillers (1955). These small but showy roles continued throughout the 1950s, but he got his first big break playing the dogmatic union man, Fred Kite, in I'm All Right Jack (1959). The film's success led to starring vehicles into the 1960s that showed off his extreme comic ability to its fullest, but after the relative failure of What's New Pussycat (1965), which was Woody Allen's first film, Sellers embarked on a rapid downfall to "Grade Z" movies in the 1970s, all of which he claimed to have made only because he needed the money. In 1972 he read the book "Being There" and decided to make it into a film. It took him seven years to finally bring it to the screen, but it earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination (he lost to Dustin Hoffman's portrayal of "Superdad" in Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)). Being There (1979) proved to be somewhat of a last hurray for Sellers, as he died the following year. His last movie, The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu (1980), completed just before his death, proved to be another flop. Director Blake Edwards' attempt at reviving the Pink Panther series after Sellers' death resulted in two panned 1980s comedies, the first of which, Trail of the Pink Panther (1982), deals with Inspector Clouseau's disappearance and was made from material cut from previous Pink Panther films and includes interviews with the original casts playing their original characters.
- Before his death he spoke very highly of 'Robin Williams (I)' (qv) and 'Steve Martin (I)' (qv), both considered that a great honor.
- Left the bulk of his estate--cash, cars, houses and art amounting to £4.5 million--to fourth wife 'Lynne Frederick' (qv). He left his son Michael and his daughter Sarah from his first marriage to actress 'Anne Howe' (qv) only £800 each. "It was a calculated and considered act. Even his lawyers blushed when they told me," Michael said. Sellers had married Frederick, who was known primarily as 'David Frost (I)' (qv)'s girlfriend (and subsequently his wife after Sellers' death), in 1977. Reportedly Sellers was in the process of excluding her from his will in the time immediately preceding his death by heart attack in 1980. A drug addict and an alcoholic, Frederick died at aged 39 and all income from Sellers' estate, including royalties from movie profit-sharing deals, was inherited by her daughter with third husband Barry Unger.
- Died a few days after filming a "Barclays Bank" commercial, which was never aired.
- First actor to be nominated for a single Academy award (best actor) for a film in which he potrayed three different characters in the same film: _Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)_ (qv).
- Father, with Anne Howe, of 'Michael Sellers (I)' (qv) and 'Sarah Sellers' (qv).
- Sellers also enjoyed success in the UK music charts, with "Any Old Iron" reaching 17 in 1957 and a cover of the Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night" released in 1965 and reaching 14.
- Late one night, following a disappointing day wrestling with a troublesome scene in one of the Pink Panther films, director 'Blake Edwards' (qv) was roused by a call from Sellers. "I just talked to God!" he exclaimed, "and he told me how to do it!" The next day Edwards humored Sellers - and the result was an unmitigated disaster. "Peter," Edwards suggested, "next time you talk to God, tell him to stay out of show business!".
- His "Goon Show" records, and other comedy recordings from the 1950s and early 1960s, were produced by 'George Martin (I)' (qv), before he worked with 'The Beatles' (qv).