Peter Sellers

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Born

9/8/1925 , Southsea, Hampshire, England, UK

Died

7/24/1980

Birth Name

Richard Henry Sellers

Gender

Male

Biography:

Richard Henry Sellers was born on September 8, 1925 in Southsea, Hampshire, England to vaudeville entertainers Agnes (Peg) and Bill Sellers. Even at only two days old, Peter made his stage debut when he was carried onto the stage at King's Theatre with his parents. He spent his childhood traveling the vaudeville circuit, where he gained a great love for the entertainment business, not to mention a heartfelt desire to one day become a performer himself. Hoping to also become more than just a vaudevillian. As a child, Peter attended Miss Whitney's School of Dancing in Southsea and Madame Vacani's Dancing Classes in London before enrolling in St Aloysius' Boarding and Day School for Boys. He became a very talented musician played the drums with touring jazz bands, he also learned to play the banjo and ukulele. Just after his 18th birthday, Peter was drafted into the British Royal Air Force. He became an official RAF concert entertainer, and between 1943 and 1946, Sellers spent his free time performing comedy sketches and playing the drums for the other servicemen.

After the war when Peter returned home, he pursued a position with the BBC. By 1948 he had taken part in a few moderately successful auditions, none of which had resulted in an invitation to join the BBC. Having grown impatient for stardom, Peter chose to take matters into his own hands. The comic made a telephone call to Roy Speer, producer of the BBC radio program, Show Time. Sellers posed as a popular radio star and recommended himself to Speer. The producer, impressed with Sellers' "acting," gave him a spot on the air. Following his initial appearances on Show Time, Sellers became a sought-after radio personality.

With his performances on the long-running BBC radio show, Crazy People/The Goon Show, Peter established himself as a master impressionist. The show's zany collection of skits and Peter's hilarious characters, including Major Bloodnok, Bluebottle and Henry Crun, have been recognized as the predecessors to Monty Python's Flying Circus. The Goon Show provided Peter with a showcase for his improvisational skills as well as an outlet for life's frustrations.

By the time the show was canceled in January 1960, Peter had earned the exposure necessary to finally begin a film career. After appearing in several British pictures, Peter achieved success in the U.S. with The Mouse That Roared (1959). In 1960 he received international attention for his role in the film ,i>The Millionairess, in which he co-starred with Sophia Loren.

Peter's amazing ability to slip from one character to the next allowed him to display his genius throughout his many film appearances. In 1963, Peter introduced the world to his most famous & beloved character of all time - Inspector Clouseau, The Pink Panther's bumbling master of disguise. Peter appeared in four sequels (A Shot in the Dark (1964), The Return of the Pink Panther (1974), The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976), and Revenge of the Pink Panther(1978) to this highly successful comedic outing: The 1982 release Trail of the Pink Panther was a posthumous collection of outtakes from the previous Panther films combined with new footage of other cast members.

Over the course of his career, Peter received two Oscar nominations. First for his cult hit Dr. Strangelove which is considered his best film, and also for the critically acclaimed film, Being There (1979), in which he played the child-like Chance, a gardener mistaken for an economic guru. Peter's controlled performance was key to the success of this subtle comedy. The comedian's film career ended just before his death in 1980, with The Fiendish Plot of Fu Manchu.

While Peter's career was always hitting the heights, his personal life didn't fare as well as most would have probably expected. Being the son of an over protective, smothering mother, he was prone to frequent temper tantrums, childish behaviour, and demanding the undivided attention of his wives. Whom along with children were forced to suffer the effects of living with an obsessive perfectionist whose attentions focused mainly on himself and his career.

After appearing in over 60 films as well as on numerous radio and television shows throughout his career, Sellers died of a heart attack on July 24, 1980. Displaying his unending sense of humor, the comic said good-bye with one last joke. At Sellers' request, the song "In The Mood" was played at his funeral, a tune that he hated. According to biographer Roger Lewis, Sellers had told his son Michael that the song was "wonderfully inappropriate - hence, wonderfully appropriate - for solemn occasions."