Peter Sellers Biography, Life, Interesting Facts
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Childhood And Early Life
British actor, comedian, and singer Peter Sellers was born on the 8 September 1925 in Southsea, England. He was born into a family of British vaudeville performers and was exposed to the stage from a very young age. At age 13, he won a talent contest.
After high school, at age 17, Peter Sellers joined the Royal Air Force and saw active service during World War II.
Rise To Fame
Peter Sellers rose to fame as part of the Goon Show which aired on radio in the UK in the 1950s. Fellow Good Show members were Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe, and Michael Bentine. The Good Show was broadcast by the BBC from 1951 until 1960.
Peter Sellers then began to act in British film comedies in the 1950s and appeared in Penny Points to Paradise (1951), Down Among the Z Men (1952) and The Ladykillers. His breakthrough role was in I’m All Right Jack (1959) which won him the British Academy Film Award for Best British Actor in 1959.
Peter Sellers was in demand as an actor during the 1960s appearing in Lolita (1962), Dr. Strangelove (1964), The Pink Panther and Kill Me, Stupid (1964) and What’s New Pussycat (1965) and Casino Royale (1967).
By the late 1960s, Sellers had a reputation for being difficult.
Film roles had started to dry up when director Blake Edwards offered made Return of the Pink Panther (1975) with Sellers again playing the role of the French detective Inspector Clouseau. The film was another hit for Sellers, and he appeared in two more Pink Panther films, The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976) and The Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978). Sellers was then offered the part of Chauncey Gardiner in the film Being There. The film was based on the novel by Jerzy Kosinski and Sellers had been keen to win the part.
His final film The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu (1980) was not a box office success. In July 1980 Sellers was in London to work on the screenplay of sixth Pink Panther film, Romance of the Pink Panther when he died of a heart attack.
Peter Sellers had a major heart attack in 1964, and after a second heart attack in 1977, he was fitted with a pacemaker in 1977. Sellers also had problems with substance abuse at various times.
Awards And Acknowledgements
From the late 1950s until shortly before his death Peter Sellers won many nominations and awards including winning the British Academy Film Award for Best British Actor in 1959 for I’m All Right Jack, the San Sebastian International Film Festival for the Best Actor award in 1962,
The Tehran Film Festival Award for Best Actor for The Optimists of Nine Elms (1973) and The Evening News British Film Award for Best Actor in 1975 for his portrayal of Inspector Jacques Clouseau in The Return of the Pink Panther.
For his role as Chauncey Gardiner in the 1979 film Being There Sellers was awarded the National Board of Review Award for Best Actor. He also won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Musical or Comedy and the London Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor. He was also nominated for a Best Actor Oscar as well as the British Academy Film Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
The children of Sellers later claimed that living with a comic genius had led to a difficult upbringing. His son, the late Michael Sellers, wrote a book with his sister Sarah and half-sister Victoria about growing up with Sellers as a father. The book, P.S. I Love You, was published in 1982.
Michael Sellers defended his father’s legacy when in 2004 The Life and Death of Peter Sellers depicted his father as clinically insane, he criticised it and wrote the book off as rubbish. Michael Sellers later published another book Sellers On Sellers (2000).
Sellers left the bulk of his fortune to his wife at the time Lynne Frederick. Leaving Michael Sellers 800 English pounds, which his son believed was enough to stop him contesting the will under British law.
Peter Sellers married Australian Anne Howe in 1951, and they had two children: Michael and Sarah Jane. The marriage ended when Sellers fell in love with Sophia Loren during the filming of The Millionairess. It was a one-sided love affair, and Loren did not accept his proposal of marriage. In 1964 he married the Swedish actress Britt Ekland after a whirlwind courtship of less than a fortnight. They had a daughter Victoria before divorcing in 1969. His next marriage was to Miranda Quarry (1970-1974) who was a daughter of a British lord. He was then engaged to Liza Minnelli for a short time before marrying Lynne Frederick in 1977.