54 (passed away Jul. 24th, 1980)
Sep. 8th, 1925
Southsea, Hampshire, England, UK
Guest TV Roles
Himself - Special Guest Star
Man in Harbor Records Office
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.
- Sellers was the first male to appear on the cover of Playboy Magazine, in April 1964
- 'Mel Brooks' (qv) considered him for - and he expressed interest in - the role of "Leo Bloom" in _The Producers (1968)_ (qv), but nothing ever came of it, and the role eventually went to 'Gene Wilder' (qv). However, Sellers was instrumental in the success of the film. After its release, he happened, almost by accident, to see a private screening of it and was so impressed that the next day he took out two full-page newspaper ads at his own expense proclaiming that it was one of the greatest comedies he had ever seen. This exposure helped promote the film at a critical time when it appeared that it was destined to sink without a trace.
- Became friends with 'The Beatles' (qv), and visited them at Abbey Road Studios. Was given a tape of rough mixes from the "White Album", which was auctioned (and bootlegged) after his death.
- 'Prince Charles' (qv) had been a fan of Sellers since "The Goon Show". In 1975, after he had seen _The Return of the Pink Panther (1975)_ (qv) in Montreal, Charles wrote to Sellers that he'd laughed so hard he had wet the dress of the woman in the next seat.
- His performance as Chance the Gardener in _Being There (1979)_ (qv) is ranked #49 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
- 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.
- Before his death he spoke very highly of 'Robin Williams (I)' (qv) and 'Steve Martin (I)' (qv), both considered that a great honor.
- Recorded a comedic rendition of "Unchained Melody" which wasn't released until years afterwards.