Richard Henry Sellers (September 8, 1925 - July 24, 1980), better known as Peter Sellers, was a British comedian, talented comic actor and member of The Goon Show (a long-running BBC radio show - 1951 - 1960). Sellers was born in Southsea, Hampshire, England, in a family of vaudeville entertainers.
Probably following his family in the vaudeville circuit, Sellers learnt this popular yet difficult art and the immediate instinct of the "gag". He was an incredibly versatile artist; he was an excellent dancer, a skillful player of the ukulele and banjo and good enough on drums to tour with several jazz bands. He is known to have performed at the Windmill Theatre.
His success was quite slow in coming. He phoned up a television producer pretending to be Kenneth Horne, who was currently in the show Much Binding in the Marsh, in order to get them on the phone.
Sellers' first film successes were in 1959 in the British Ealing comedies, such as I'm All Right Jack and The Mouse That Roared. Sellers is most famous for his role as the bungling Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther movies, which granted him a large American audience.
He played many other more challenging parts, notably the triple role consisting of the president of the United States, Dr. Strangelove and an officer of the RAF (the first two appearing in the same room throughout the film) in Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, easily varying from brilliant themes as in Hollywood Party, to more intense performances as in Lolita (from Vladimir Nabokov's notorious masterpiece). A late masterpiece for Sellers was the film Being There.
Commonly considered a master actor, sometimes described as an "obsessive perfectionist", Sellers found in Blake Edwards a devoted director who could delicately underline and follow his comic rhythms; Edwards defined Sellers as a "mercurial clown" who could turn comedy into drama, and vice-versa, in an instant.
Other directors Sellers played for include the above mentioned Kubrick, Roman Polanski, Paul Mazursky, and Billy Wilder. He played with many stars, among them Shirley MacLaine, Sophia Loren, Maggie Smith, Goldie Hawn, Shelley Winters, Elke Sommer, Claudine Longet, and even Ringo Starr (The Beatles' drummer). Sellers' early career included radio and television work.
Sellers died of a heart attack on July 24, 1980 in London, England and was cremated. In his will he had explicitly requested that Glenn Miller's song "In The Mood" be played for his funeral; it is considered his last touch of humour, since he deeply hated that tune.
The movie The Trail of the Pink Panther was released posthumously in 1982, containing previously unused footage of Sellers.
- The Black Rose (1950).
- London Entertains (1951).
- Let's Go Crazy (1951).
- Burlesque of Carmen (1951).
- Penny Points to Paradise (1951).
- Down Among the Z Men (1952).
- Beat the Devil (Humphrey Bogart's voice) (1953).
- The Super Secret Service (1953).
- Our Girl Friday aka The Adventures of Sadie (1954).
- Malaga (voice of 14 characters) (1954).
- Orders are Orders (1954).
- John and Julie (1955).
- The Man Who Never Was (1956).
- The Ladykillers (1956).
- The Case of the Mukkineese Battlehorn (1956).
- The Smallest Show on Earth (1957).
- Cold Comfort (1957).
- Insomnia Is Good For You (1957).
- Dearth of a Salesman (1957).
- The Naked Truth aka Your Past Is Showing (1958).
- Tom Thumb (1958).
- Up the Creek (1958).
- Carlton-Browne of the F.O aka Man in a Cocked Hat (1959).
- The Mouse That Roared (1959).
- Im All Right, Jack (1959).
- The Running, Jumping and Standing Still Film (1960).
- The Battle of the Sexes (1960).
- Two-Way Stretch (1960).
- Never Let Go (1960).
- The Millionairess (1960).
- Climb Up the Wall (1960).
- Mr. Topaze aka I Like Money (1961).
- Only Two Can Play (1962).
- The Road to Hong Kong (1962).
- Waltz of the Toreadors (1962).
- Lolita (1962).
- Trial and Error aka The Dock Brief (1962).
- The Wrong Arm of the Law (1963).
- Heavens Above (1963).
- Light of Day (1963)
- The Pink Panther (1964).
- Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964 - first Oscar nomination).
- The World of Henry Orient (1964).
- A Shot in the Dark (1964, sequel to The Pink Panther).
- A Carol For Another Christmas (1964).
- Birds, Bees and Storks (1964).
- What's New Pussycat (1965).
- The Wrong Box (1965).
- After the Fox (1966).
- Casino Royale (1967).
- The Bobo (1967).
- Woman Times Seven (1967).
- The Party aka Hollywood Party (1968).
- I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (1968).
- The Magic Christian (1970).
- Hoffman (1970).
- A Day at the Beach (1970).
- Simon, Simon (1970).
- There's a Girl in My Soup (1971).
- Where Does It Hurt (1972).
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1972).
- The Blockhouse (1973).
- Soft Beds, Hard Battles aka Undercovers Heroes (1973).
- The Optimists of Nine Elms (1974).
- Ghost In The Noonday Sun (1974).
- The Great McGonagall (1975), in which he plays Queen Victoria.
- The Return of the Pink Panther (1975).
- Murder By Death (1976).
- The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976).
- The Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978).
- The Prisoner of Zenda (1979).
- Being There (1979), second nomination for an Academy Award for Best Actor.
- The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu (1980).
- The Great Pram Race (1980).
- Trail of the Pink Panther - posthumously (1982).
UK singles chart - Any Old Iron (1957): Bangers and Mash (1961): A Hard Day's Night (1965) (1993): Goodness Gracious Me (1960) with Sophia Loren. Many of Sellers' comedy records were produced by George Martin.