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.
- (October 1997) Ranked #84 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list.
- 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.
- Claims to have had a near-death experience during a heart attack, in which he saw Heaven.
- Together with 'Nicolas Cage' (qv) (_Adaptation. (2002)_ (qv)) and 'Lee Marvin' (qv) (_Cat Ballou (1965)_ (qv)), Sellers is the only actor with an Oscar nomination for playing multiple characters in a film (in (_Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)_ (qv), he plays three characters, Group Captain (G/C) Lionel Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley and Dr. Strangelove). Marvin is the only one who actually won one for a double role.
- Is portrayed by 'Geoffrey Rush' (qv) in _The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004)_ (qv).
- At the time of his death, he was due to undergo heart surgery.
- He was voted the 41st Greatest Movie Star of all time by Premiere Magazine.
- Sellers, 'Spike Milligan' (qv), 'Michael Bentine' (qv) and 'Harry Secombe' (qv) performed on BBC Radio as "The Goon Show" in the early 1950s.