Rare Peter Sellers Signed Album Page Autographed + Original Pink Panther Photo For Sale
RARE PETER SELLERS SIGNED ALBUM PAGE AUTOGRAPHED + ORIGINAL PINK PANTHER PHOTO
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DESCRIPTION: GROUP LOT OF 2 EA.: RARE actor PETER SELLERS authentic originally signed autograph album page and a vintage photograph from the PINK PANTHER film. The page is written with a blue ink ballpoint pen. I cannot tell who signed on the back of his page.
- All of my autographed items have a lifetime money back guarantee of authenticity (see Return Policy)
- SIZE: the album page is approx. 4" X 6" and the photograph is approx. 7" x 9"
- TONE: cream colored page and B&W photograph
- CONDITION: both are in excellent condition (Please note that I am extremely condition conscious so I always point out the slightest anomalies)
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PETER SELLERS BIO
born Richard Henry Sellers; 8 September 1925– 24 July 1980),
was a British film actor, comedian and singer. He appeared in the BBC Radio
comedy series The Goon Show, featured on a number of hit comic
songs and became known to a world-wide audience through his many film
characterisations, among them Chief Inspector Clouseau in The
Pink Panther series of films.
Born in Portsmouth,
Sellers made his stage debut at the Kings Theatre, Southsea, when he was two
weeks old. He began accompanying his parents in a variety act that toured the
provincial theatres. He first worked as a drummer and toured around England as a member
of the Entertainments National
Service Association. He developed his mimicry and improvisational skills
during a spell in Ralph Reader's wartime Gang Show
entertainment troupe, which toured Britain
and the Far East. After the war, Sellers made
his radio debut in ShowTime, and eventually became a regular performer
on various BBC
radio shows. During the early 1950s, Sellers, along with Spike
Milligan, Harry Secombe and Michael
Bentine, took part in the successful radio series The Goon Show,
which ended in 1960.
Sellers began as a film actor in the 1950s. Although the bulk of his work
was comedic-based, often parodying characters of authority such as military officers or
policemen, he also performed in other film genres and roles. Notable films
demonstrating his artistic range include I'm All Right Jack (1959); Stanley
Kubrick's Lolita (1962) and Dr.
Strangelove (1964); What's New, Pussycat? (1965); Casino Royale (1967); The Party (1968); Being There
(1979) and the five films of the Pink Panther series (1963–1978).
Sellers's versatility enabled him to portray a wide range of comic characters
using different accents and guises, and he would often assume multiple roles
within the same film, frequently with contrasting temperaments and styles.
Satire and black humour were major features of many of his films,
and his performances had a strong influence on a number of later comedians.
Sellers garnered much critical acclaim for his work; he was nominated three
times for an Academy Award, twice for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his
performances in Dr. Strangelove and Being There, and once for the
Academy Award for Best
Live Action Short Film for The Running Jumping &
Standing Still Film (1960). He won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor
in a Leading Role twice, for I'm All Right Jack and for the original
Pink Panther film, The Pink Panther (1963) and was nominated as
Best Actor three times. In 1980 he won the Golden
Globe Award for Best Actor– Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for his
role in Being There, and also earned three other Golden Globe
nominations in the same category. Turner Classic Movies calls Sellers,
"one of the most accomplished comic actors of the late 20th century."
In his personal life, Sellers struggled with depression and insecurities. An
enigmatic figure, he often claimed to have no identity outside the roles that
he played. His behaviour was often erratic and compulsive, and he frequently
clashed with his directors and co-stars, especially in the mid-1970s when his
physical and mental health, together with his alcohol and drug problems, were
at their worst. Sellers was married four times, and had three children from his
first two marriages. He died as a result of a heart attack in 1980, aged 54.
Filmmakers the Boulting brothers described Sellers as "the
greatest comic genius this country has produced since Charles
Sellers was born on 8 September 1925, in Southsea, a
suburb of Portsmouth.
His parents were Yorkshire-born William "Bill" Sellers (1900–62)
and Agnes Doreen "Peg" (née Marks, 1892–1967). Both were variety
entertainers; Peg was in the Ray Sisters troupe.
Although christened Richard Henry, his parents called him Peter, after his
Sellers remained an only child.
Peg Sellers was related to the pugilist Daniel
Mendoza (1764–1836), an ancestor whom Sellers greatly revered, and whose
engraving later hung in his office. At one time Sellers planned to use Mendoza's image for his
production company's logo.
Sellers was two weeks old when he was carried on stage by Dick Henderson,
the headline act at the Kings Theatre in Southsea: the crowd sang
"For He's a Jolly Good Fellow",
which reduced Sellers to tears.
The family constantly toured, causing much upheaval and unhappiness in the
young Sellers's life.
Sellers maintained a very close relationship with his mother, which his
friend Spike Milligan later considered unhealthy for a
Sellers's agent, Dennis Selinger, recalled his first meeting with Peg and Peter
Sellers, noting that "Sellers was an immensely shy young man, inclined to
be dominated by his mother, but without resentment or objection".
As an only child though, he spent much time alone.
In 1935 the Sellers family moved to North London
and settled in Muswell Hill.
Although Bill Sellers was Protestant and Peg was Jewish, Sellers attended the
North London Roman Catholic school St. Aloysius College, run by the Brothers of Our Lady of Mercy.
Although the family was not rich, Peg insisted on an expensive private
schooling for her son.
According to his biographer, Roger Lewis, Sellers was intrigued by Catholicism, but
soon after entering Catholic school, he "discovered he was a Jew—he was
someone on the outside of the mysteries of faith."
Later in his life, Sellers observed that while his father's faith was according
to the Church of England, his mother was Jewish,
"and Jews take the faith of their mother."
He became a top student at the school, excelling in drawing in particular; he
was prone to laziness, but his natural talents shielded him from criticism by
Sellers recalled that a teacher scolded the other boys for not studying,
saying: "The Jewish boy knows his catechism
better than the rest of you!"[a]
Accompanying his family
on the variety show circuit,
Sellers learned stagecraft. However, he received conflicting encouragement
from his parents and developed mixed feelings about show business. His father
doubted Peter's abilities in the entertainment field, even suggesting that his
son's talents were only enough to become a road sweeper, while Sellers's mother
encouraged him continuously.
While at St Aloysius College, Sellers began to develop his improvisational
skills. He and his closest friend at the time, Bryan Connon, both enjoyed
listening to early radio comedy shows. Connon remembers that "Peter got
endless pleasure imitating the people in Monday Night at Eight. He had a gift for
improvising dialogue. Sketches, too. I'd be the 'straight man', the
'feed',… I'd cue Peter and he'd do all the radio personalities and chuck
in a few voices of his own invention as well."
With the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, St Aloysius College was evacuated
Because his mother did not allow Sellers to go,
his formal education ended at fourteen.
Early in 1940, the family moved to the north Devon town of Ilfracombe,
where Sellers's maternal uncle managed the Victoria Palace Theatre;
Sellers got his first job at the theatre, aged fifteen, starting as a caretaker.
He was steadily promoted, becoming a box office clerk, usher, assistant stage
manager and lighting operator. He was also offered some small acting parts.
Working backstage gave him a chance to study actors such as Paul
Scofield. He became close friends with Derek Altman, and together they
launched Sellers's first stage act under the name "Altman and
Sellers", consisting of playing ukuleles,
singing, and telling jokes.
During his backstage theatre job, Sellers began practising on a set of drums
that belonged to the band Joe Daniels and his Hot Shots. Daniels
noticed his efforts and gave him practical instructions. The instrument greatly
suited Sellers's temperament and artistic skills.
Spike Milligan later noted that Sellers was very proficient on the drums and
might have remained a jazz drummer, had he lacked his mimicry and improvisation
As the Second World War
progressed, Sellers continued to develop his drumming skills, and played with a
series of touring bands, including those of Oscar Rabin,
Henry Hall and Waldini,
as well as his father's quartet, before he left and joined a band from Blackpool.
Sellers became a member of the Entertainments National
Service Association (ENSA), which provided entertainment for British forces
and factory workers during the war.
Sellers also performed comedy routines at these concerts, including
impersonations of George Formby, with Sellers accompanying his own
singing on ukulele.
In September 1943, he joined the Royal
Air Force, although it is unclear whether he volunteered or was conscripted;
his mother unsuccessfully tried to have him deferred on medical grounds.
Sellers wanted to become a pilot, but his poor eyesight restricted him to
ground staff duties.
He found these duties dull, so auditioned for Squadron Leader Ralph
Reader's RAF Gang Show entertainment troupe: Reader accepted him
and Sellers toured the UK
before the troupe was transferred to India.
His tour also included Ceylon and Burma, although the duration of his stay in Asia
is unknown, and Sellers may have exaggerated its length.
He also served in Germany
after the war.
According to David Lodge who became friends with Sellers, he
was "one of the best performers ever" on the drums and developed a
fine ability to impersonate military officers during this period.
1946, Sellers made his final show with ENSA starring in the pantomime Jack
and the Beanstalk at the Théâtre Marigny in Paris.
He was posted back to England shortly afterwards to work at the Air Ministry,
later that year.
On resuming his theatrical career, Sellers could get only sporadic work.
He was fired after one performance of a comedy routine in Peterborough;
the headline act, Welsh vocalist Dorothy
Squires, however, persuaded the management to reinstate him.
Sellers also continued his drumming and was billed on his appearance at the
Aldershot Hippodrome as "Britain's
answer to Gene
In March 1948 Sellers gained a six-week run at the Windmill
Theatre in London,
which predominantly staged revue acts: he provided the comedy turns in between the nude
shows on offer.
Sellers wrote to the BBC
in 1948, and was subsequently auditioned. As a result, he made his television
debut on 18 March 1948 in New To You. His act was largely based on
impressions, was well received, and he returned the following week.
Frustrated with the slow pace of his career, Sellers telephoned BBC radio
producer Roy Speer, pretending to be Kenneth
Horne, star of the radio show Much Binding in the Marsh. Speer
called Sellers a "cheeky young sod" for his efforts, but gave him an
audition. This led to his brief appearance on 1 July 1948 on ShowTime
and subsequently to work on Ray's a Laugh with comedian Ted Ray.
In October 1948, Sellers was a regular radio performer, appearing in Starlight
Hour, The Gang Show, Henry Hall's Guest Night and It's
Fine To Be Young.
By the end of 1948, the BBC Third Programme began to broadcast the
comedy series Third Division, which starred, among others, Harry
Secombe, Michael Bentine and Sellers.
One evening, Sellers and Bentine visited the Hackney
Empire, where Secombe was performing, and Bentine introduced Sellers to
The four would meet up at Grafton's public house near Victoria, owned by Jimmy
Grafton, who was also a BBC script writer. The four comedians dubbed him KOGVOS
(Keeper of Goons and Voice of Sanity)[b]
Grafton later edited some of the first Goon
In 1949, Sellers started to date Anne Howe,[c] an
Australian actress who lived in London.
Sellers proposed to her in April 1950
and the couple were married in London on 15 September 1951;
their son, Michael, was born on 2 April 1954,
and their daughter, Sarah, followed in 1958.
Sellers introduction to film work came in 1950, where he dubbed the voice of
Bedoya in The Black Rose.
He continued to work with Bentine, Milligan, and Secombe. On 3 February 1951,
he made a trial tape entitled The Goons, and sent it to the BBC producer
Pat Dixon, who eventually accepted it. The first Goon Show
was broadcast on 28 May 1951.
Against their wishes, they appeared under the name Crazy People.
Sellers appeared in The Goons until the last programme of the ten-series
run, broadcast on 28 January 1960.
Sellers played four main characters—Major
Bloodnok, Hercules Grytpype-Thynne, Bluebottle and Henry Crun—and seventeen minor ones.
Starting with 370,000 listeners, the show eventually reached up to seven
million people in Britain,
and was described by one newspaper as "probably the most influential
comedy show of all time".
For Sellers, the BBC considers it had the effect of launching his career
"on the road to stardom".
In 1951 the Goons made their feature film debut in Penny Points to Paradise.
Sellers and Milligan then penned the script to Let's Go Crazy, the earliest film to showcase
Sellers's ability to portray a series of different characters within the same
film, and he made another appearance opposite his Goons co-stars in the 1952
flop, Down Among the Z Men.
In 1954, Sellers was cast opposite Sid James, Tony
Hancock, Raymond Huntley, Donald
Pleasence and Eric Sykes in the British Lion Film Corporation comedy
production, Orders Are Orders. John
Grierson believes that this was Sellers's breakthrough role on screen and
credits this film with launching the film careers of both Sellers and Hancock.
pursued a film career and took a number of small roles such as a police
inspector in John and Julie (1955).
The same year, he was offered a bigger part in the 1955 Alexander Mackendrick-directed Ealing
comedy The Ladykillers in which he starred opposite Alec
Guinness, Herbert Lom and Cecil
Parker as Harry Robinson, the teddy boy;
biographer Peter Evans considers this Sellers's first good role.
The Ladykillers was a success in both Britain and the US,
and it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original
Screenplay at the 29th Academy Awards.
The following year Sellers recorded a further three television series of The
Goons, which aired on Britain's
new station, ITV. The
series were The Idiot Weekly, Price 2d, A Show Called Fred and Son of Fred.
In 1957, film producer Michael Relph became impressed with Sellers's
portrayal of an elderly character in Idiot Weekly, and cast the
32-year-old actor as a 68-year-old projectionist in Basil
Dearden's The Smallest Show on Earth,
supporting Bill Travers, Virginia
McKenna and Margaret Rutherford.
The film was a commercial success and is considered a minor classic of British
screen comedy in the post-war period.
Following this, Sellers provided the growling voice of Winston
Churchill to the BAFTA award winning film The Man Who Never Was.
Later in 1957, Sellers starred in Mario Zampi's
offbeat black comedy The Naked Truth, opposite Terry-Thomas,
Mount, Shirley Eaton and Dennis
Sellers's difficulties in getting his film career to take off, and increasing
problems in his personal life, prompted him to seek periodic consultations with
astrologer Maurice Woodruff, who held considerable sway over
his later career.
After a chance meeting with a North American Indian spirit guide in the 1950s,
Sellers became convinced that the music hall
Leno, who died in 1904, haunted him and guided his career and life
In 1958, Sellers starred opposite David
Tomlinson, Wilfrid Hyde-White, David Lodge and Lionel
Jeffries as a chief petty officer in Val Guest's
Up the Creek.
Guest later claimed that he had written and directed the film as a vehicle for
Sellers, and thus had started Sellers's film career.
In order to practice his voice, Sellers purchased one of the earliest
reel-to-reel tape recorders.
The film received critical acclaim in the United States
and Roger Lewis viewed it as an important practice ground for Sellers.
Next, Sellers featured with Terry-Thomas as one of a pair of comic villains in George Pal's
tom thumb, a musical fantasy film, opposite Russ
Tamblyn, Jessie Matthews and Peter
Butterworth. Terry-Thomas later said that "my part was perfect, but
Peter's was bloody awful. He wasn't difficult about it, but he knew it".
The performance was a major landmark in Sellers's career and became his first
contact with the Hollywood film industry.
Sellers released his first studio album in 1958 called The Best of
Sellers; a collection of sketches and comic songs,
the latter of which were undertaken in a variety of comic characters.
The album reached number three in the UK
it was produced by George Martin and released on Parlophone.
The same year, Sellers made his first film with John
and Roy Boulting in Carlton-Browne of the F.O., a comedy
in which he played a supporting role for the film's lead, Terry-Thomas.
Before the release of that film, the Boultings, along with Sellers and Thomas
in the cast, started filming I'm All Right Jack, which became the highest
grossing film at the British box office in 1960.
In preparation for his role as Fred Kite, Sellers watched footage of union
The role earned him a BAFTA, and the critic for The
Manchester Guardian believed it was Sellers's best screen performance
In between Carlton-Browne of the F.O. and I'm All Right Jack,
Sellers starred in The Mouse That Roared opposite Jean Seberg
and directed by Jack Arnold. He played three leading and distinct roles: the
elderly queen, the ambitious Prime Minister and the innocent and clumsy farm
boy selected to lead an invasion of the United States.
The film received universal and high praise by critics.
After completing I'm All Right Jack, Sellers returned to record a new
series of The Goon Show.
Over the course of two weekends, he took his 16mm cine camera to Totteridge Lane in London and filmed
himself, Spike Milligan, Mario Fabrizi, Leo McKern
Lester. Originally intended as a private film, the eleven-minute short film
The Running Jumping &
Standing Still Film was screened at the 1959 Edinburgh and San Francisco film
festivals. It won the award for best fiction short in the latter festival, and
received an Academy Award nomination for Best Short Subject (Live
In 1959, Sellers released his second album, Songs For Swinging Sellers,
which—like his first record—reached number three in the UK Albums Chart.
Sellers's last film of the fifties was The Battle of the Sexes; a
comedy directed by Charles Crichton.
1960 Sellers portrayed an Indian doctor, Dr Ahmed el Kabir in Anthony
Asquith's romantic comedy The
Millionairess, a film based on a George Bernard Shaw play of the same name. Sellers was not
interested in accepting the role until he learned that Sophia
Loren was to be his co-star.
When asked about Loren, he explained to reporters "I don't normally act
with romantic, glamorous women… she's a lot different from Harry Secombe."
Sellers and Loren developed a close relationship during filming, culminating in
Sellers declaring his love for her in front of his wife.
Sellers also woke his son at night to ask: "Do you think I should divorce
Roger Lewis observed that Sellers immersed himself completely in the characters
he enacted during productions, that "he'd play a role as an Indian doctor,
and for the next six months, he'd be an Indian in his 'real' [daily] life."
The film inspired the George Martin-produced novelty
hit single "Goodness Gracious Me", with
Sellers and Loren, that reached number four in the UK
Singles Chart in November 1960.
A follow-up single by the duo, Bangers and Mash, reached number 22 in
The songs were included on an album released by the couple, Peter &
Sophia, which reached number five in the UK Albums Chart.
In 1961 Sellers made his directorial debut with Mr. Topaze,
in which he also starred.
The film was based on the Marcel Pagnol play Topaze.
Sellers portrayed an ex-schoolmaster in a small French town who turns to a life
of crime to obtain wealth. The film and Sellers's directorial abilities
received an unenthusiastic response from the public and critics alike, and
Sellers rarely referred to it again.
The same year he starred in the Sidney
Gilliat-directed Only Two Can Play, a film based on the novel That Uncertain Feeling by Kingsley
He was nominated for the Best British Actor
award at the 16th British Academy Film Awards
for his role as John Lewis, a frustrated Welsh librarian whose affections swing
between the glamorous Liz (Mai Zetterling), and his long-suffering wife Jean (Virginia
In 1962 Sellers played a retired British army general in John
Guillermin's Waltz of the Toreadors, based on
the play of the same name. The film was
widely criticised for its slapstick cinematic adaption, and director Guillermin
himself considered the film an "amateurish" effort.
However, Sellers won the San
Sebastián International Film Festival Award for Best Actor and a BAFTA
award nomination for his performance, and it was well received by the critics.
Later in 1962, Stanley Kubrick asked Sellers to play the role of
Clare Quilty in Lolita, opposite James Mason
and Shelley Winters.
Kubrick had seen Sellers in The Battle of the Sexes and listened to the
album The Best of Sellers, and was impressed by the range of characters
he could portray.
Sellers was apprehensive about accepting the role, doubting his ability to
successfully portray the part of a flamboyant American television playwright
who was according to Sellers "a fantastic nightmare, part homosexual, part
drug addict, part sadist".
Kubrick encouraged Sellers to improvise and stated that he would often reach a
"state of comic ecstasy."
Kubrick had American jazz producer Norman
Granz record portions of the script for Sellers to listen to, so he could study
the voice and develop confidence, granting Sellers a free artistic licence.
Sellers later claimed that his relationship with Kubrick became one of the most
rewarding of his career.
Writing in The Sunday Times, Dilys
Powell noted that Sellers gave, "...a firework performance, funny,
malicious, only once for a few seconds overreaching itself, and in the murder
scene which is both prologue and epilogue achieving the macabre in comedy."
Towards the end of 1962, Sellers appeared in The
Dock Brief, a legal satire directed by James Hill and co-starring Richard Attenborough.
Sellers's behaviour towards his family worsened in 1962; according to his
son Michael, Sellers asked him and his sister Sarah "who we love more, our
mother or him. Sarah, to keep the peace, said, 'I love you both equally'. I
said, 'No, I love my mum.'" This prompted Sellers to throw both children
out, saying that he never wanted to see them again.
At the end of 1962, his marriage to Anne broke down.[e]
In 1963, Sellers starred as gang leader "Pearly Gates" in Cliff Owen's
The Wrong Arm of the Law,
followed by his portrayal of a vicar in Heavens
Clouseau with great dignity, because he thinks of himself as one of the world's
best detectives. Even when he comes a cropper, he must pick himself up with
that notion intact. The original script makes him out to be a complete idiot. I
think a forgivable vanity would humanize him and make him kind of touching.
It's as if filmgoers are kept one fall ahead of him."
After his father's death in October 1962, Sellers decided to leave England
and was approached by director Blake
Edwards who offered him the role of Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther, after Peter
Ustinov had backed out of the film.
Edwards later recalled his feelings as "desperately unhappy and ready to
kill, but as fate would have it, I got Mr. Sellers instead of Mr. Ustinov—thank
Sellers accepted a fee of £90,000 (£674,902 in 2013 pounds)
for five weeks' work on location in Rome
The film starred David Niven in the principal role, with two other
and Claudia Cardinale—having more prominent roles
However, Sellers's performance is regarded as being on par with that of Charlie
Chaplin and Buster Keaton, according to biographer Peter Evans.
Although the Clouseau character was in the script, Sellers created the
personality, devising the costume, accent, make-up, moustache and trench coat.
The Pink Panther was released in January 1964,
and received a mixed reception from the critics,
although Penelope Gilliatt, writing in The
Observer, remarked that Sellers had a "flawless sense of
mistiming" in a performance that was "...one of the most delicate
studies in accident-proneness since the silents."
Despite the views of the critics, the film was one of the top ten grossing
films of the year.
The role earned Sellers a nomination for the Golden
Globe Award for Best Actor– Motion Picture Musical or Comedy at the 22nd Golden Globe Awards,
and for a Best British Actor
award at the 18th British Academy Film Awards.
1963, Stanley Kubrick cast Sellers to appear in Dr.
Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
alongside George C. Scott, Sterling
Hayden, Keenan Wynn and Slim
Pickens. He asked Sellers to play four roles: US President Merkin Muffley,
Dr. Strangelove, Group Captain Lionel Mandrake of the RAF
and Major T. J. "King" Kong.
Sellers was initially hesitant about taking on these divergent characters, but
According to some accounts, Sellers was also invited to play the part of
General Buck Turgidson, but turned it down because it was too physically
Kubrick later commented that the idea of having Sellers in so many of the
film's key roles was that "everywhere you turn there is some version of
Peter Sellers holding the fate of the world in his hands".
Sellers was especially anxious about successfully enacting the role of Kong and
accurately affecting a Texan accent.
Kubrick requested screenwriter Terry
Southern to record in his natural accent a tape of Kong's lines.
After practising with Southern's recording, Sellers got sufficient control of
the accent, and started shooting the scenes in the aeroplane. After the first
day's shooting, Sellers sprained his ankle while leaving a restaurant and could
no longer work in the cramped cockpit set.
Kubrick then re-cast Slim Pickens as Kong.
The three roles Sellers undertook were distinct, "variegated, complex and
and critic Alexander Walker considered that these roles "showed his genius
at full stretch".
Sellers played Muffley as a bland, placid intellectual in the mould of Adlai Stevenson;
he played Mandrake as an unflappable Englishman;
and Dr. Strangelove, a character influenced by pre-war German cinema, as a
The critic for The Times wrote that the film includes, "three
remarkable performances from Mr. Peter Sellers, masterly as the President,
diverting as a revue-sketch ex-Nazi US Scientist… and acceptable as an
although the critic from The Guardian thought his portrayal of the RAF
officer alone was, "worth the price of an admission ticket".
For his performance in all three roles, Sellers was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor at the 37th Academy Awards,
and the Best British Actor
award at the 18th British Academy Film Awards.
Between November 1963 and February 1964, Sellers began filming A Shot in the Dark,
an adaptation of a French play, L'Idiote
Sellers found the part and the director, Anatole
Litvak, uninspiring; the producers brought in Blake Edwards to replace
Litvak. Together with writer William Peter Blatty, they turned the script
into a Clouseau comedy, also adding Herbert Lom as Commissioner Dreyfus and Burt Kwouk
as Cato. During filming, Sellers's relationship with
Edwards became strained; the two would often stop speaking to each other during
filming, communicating only by the passing of notes.
Sellers's personality was described by others as difficult and demanding, and
he often clashed with fellow actors and directors.
Upon its release in late June 1964, Bosley Crowther noted the "joyously
free and facile way" in which Sellers had developed his comedy technique.
extremely vulnerable, and I need help a lot. A lot. I suppose I feel mainly I
need the help of a woman. I'm continually searching for this woman. They mother
you, they're great in bed, they're like a sister, they're there when you want
to see them, they're not there when you don't. I don't know where they are.
Maybe they're around somewhere. I'll find one, one of these days."
Towards the end of filming, in early February 1964, Sellers met Britt
Ekland, a Swedish actress who had arrived in London to film Guns
at Batasi. On 19 February 1964, just ten days after their first
meeting, the couple married.
Sellers soon showed signs of insecurity and paranoia; he would become highly
anxious and jealous, for example, when Ekland starred opposite attractive men.
Shortly after the wedding, Sellers started filming on location in Twentynine Palms, California for Billy
Wilder's Kiss Me, Stupid, opposite Dean Martin
The relationship between Wilder and Sellers became strained; both had different
approaches to work and often clashed as a result.
On the night of 5 April 1964, prior to having sex with Ekland, Sellers took amyl
as a sexual stimulant in his search for "the ultimate orgasm",
and suffered a series of eight heart attacks over the course of three hours
as a result.
His illness forced him to withdraw from the filming of Kiss Me, Stupid
and he was replaced by Ray Walston.
Wilder was unsympathetic about the heart attacks, saying that "you have to
have a heart before you can have an attack".
After some time recovering, Sellers returned to filming in October 1964,
playing King of the Individualists alongside Ekland in Carol for Another Christmas,[f] a
United Nations special, broadcast on the ABC channel on 28 December 1964.
Sellers had been concerned that his heart attacks may have caused brain damage
and that he would be unable to remember his lines, but he was reassured that
his memory and abilities were unimpaired after the experience of filming.
Sellers followed this with the role of Doctor Fritz Fassbender in Clive
Donner's What's New Pussycat?, appearing alongside Peter
O'Toole, Romy Schneider, Capucine, Paula
Prentiss and Ursula Andress.
The film was the first screenwriting and acting credit for Woody Allen,
and featured Sellers in a love triangle.
Because of Sellers's poor health, producer Charles K. Feldman insured him at a cost of
($2,664,850 in 2013 dollars).
Sellers became a close friend of Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st
Earl of Snowdon, a photographer who was then married to Princess
Margaret. Snowdon shared a love of women,
photography, fine wine and fast cars with Sellers; both were also prone to
bouts of depression.
They spent many weekends together with their wives and went on several holidays
on board Sellers's yacht Bobo in Sardinia.
On 20 January 1965, Sellers and Ekland announced the birth of a daughter, Victoria.
They moved to Rome
in May to film After the Fox, an Anglo-Italian production in
which they were both to appear.
The film was directed by Vittorio De Sica, whose English Sellers struggled
Sellers attempted to have De Sica fired, causing tensions on the set.
Sellers also became unhappy with his wife's performance, straining their
and triggering open arguments during one of which Sellers threw a chair at
Despite these conflicts, the script was praised for its wit.
Following the commercial success of What's New Pussycat?, Charles
Feldman again brought together Sellers and Woody Allen for his next project, Casino Royale, which also starred Orson
Sellers signed a $1million contract for the film
($6,885,230 in 2013 dollars).
Seven screenwriters worked on the project,
and filming was chaotic.
To make matters worse, according to Ekland, Sellers was "so insecure, he
won't trust anyone".
A poor working relationship quickly developed between Sellers and Welles:
Sellers eventually demanded that the two should not share the same set.
Sellers left the film before his part was complete. A further agent's part was
then written for Terence Cooper, to cover Sellers's departure.[g]
Shortly after leaving Casino Royale, Sellers was appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of
the British Empire (CBE) in honour of his career achievements.
The day before the investiture at Buckingham
Palace, Sellers and Ekland argued, with Ekland scratching his face in the
process; Sellers had a make-up artist cover the marks.
Ekland later reported that although the couple argued, Sellers never hit her.
During his next film, The Bobo, which again co-starred Ekland, the couple's
marital problems worsened. Three weeks into production in Italy, Sellers
told director Robert Parrish to fire his wife, saying "I'm
not coming back after lunch if that bitch is on the set".
Ekland later stated that the marriage was "an atrocious sham" at this
In the midst of filming The Bobo, Sellers's mother had a heart attack;
Parrish asked Sellers if he wanted to visit her in hospital, but Sellers
remained on set. She died within days, without Sellers having seen her.
He was deeply affected by her death and remorseful at not having returned to London to see her.
Ekland served him with divorce papers shortly afterwards. The divorce was
finalised on 18 December 1968, and Sellers's friend Spike Milligan sent Ekland
a congratulatory telegram.
Upon its release in September 1967, The Bobo was poorly received.
Sellers's first film appearance of 1968 was a reunion with Blake Edwards for
the fish out of water comedy The Party, in which he starred alongside Claudine
Longet and Denny Miller. He appears as Hrundi V. Bakshi, a
bungling Indian actor who accidentally receives an invitation to a lavish Hollywood dinner party. His character, according to
Sellers's biographer Peter Evans, was "clearly an amalgam of Clouseau and
the doctor in The Millionairess".
Roger Lewis notes that like a number of Sellers's characters, he is played in a
sympathetic and dignified manner.
He followed it later that year with Hy Averback's
I Love You, Alice B. Toklas,
playing an attorney who abandons his lifestyle to become a hippie. Roger Ebert
of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three stars,
remarking that Sellers was "back doing what he does best", although
he also said that in Sellers's previous films he had "been at his worst
In 1969 Sellers starred opposite Ringo Starr
in the Joseph McGrath-directed film The Magic Christian. Sellers
portrayed Sir Guy Grand, an eccentric billionaire who plays elaborate practical
jokes on people. Irv Slifkin remarked that the film was a reflection of the
cynicism of Peter Sellers, describing the film as a "proto-Pythonesque
adaption of Terry Southern's semi-free-form short novel", and "one of
the strangest films to be shown at a gala premiere for Britain's royal
The film, a satire on human nature,
was in general viewed negatively by critics. Roger
Greenspun of The New York Times believed that the film was of
variable quality and summarised it as a "brutal satire".
a cameo appearance in A Day at the Beach (1970),
and a serious role later in 1970 as an ageing businessman who seduces Sinéad
Cusack in Hoffman,
Sellers starred in Roy Boulting's There's a Girl in My Soup opposite Goldie Hawn.
According to The Times, the film was a major commercial success and
became the seventh most popular film at the British box office in 1970.
Andrew Spicer, writing for the British Film Institute's Screenonline,
considers that although Sellers favoured playing romantic roles, he "was
always more successful in parts that sent up his own vanities and pretensions,
as with the TV presenter and narcissistic lothario [sic] he played in There's
a Girl in My Soup".
The film was seen as a small revival of his career.
However, Sellers next films, including Rodney
Amateau's Where Does It Hurt? (1972)
and Peter Medak's Ghost in the Noonday Sun (1973), were
again poorly received, and his acting was viewed as frenetic rather than funny.
Despite these setbacks, Sellers won the Best Actor award at the 1973 Tehran
Film Festival for his tragi-comedic role as a street performer in Anthony Simmons's The Optimists of Nine Elms.
Fellow comedian and friend Spike Milligan believed that the early 1970s were
for Sellers "a period of indifference, and it would appear at one time
that his career might have come to a conclusion".
This was echoed by Sellers's biographer, Peter Evans, who notes that out of
nine films in the period, three were never released and five had flopped, while
only There's a Girl in My Soup had been a success.
In his private life, he had been seeing the twenty-three-year-old model Miranda Quarry. The couple
married on 24 August 1970,
despite Sellers's private doubts—expressed to his agent, Dennis Selinger—about
his decision to re-marry.
On 20 April 1972, Sellers reunited with Milligan and Harry Secombe to record
The Last Goon Show of All, which was
broadcast on 5 October.
In May 1973, with his third marriage failing,
Sellers went to the theatre to watch Liza
Minnelli perform. He became entranced with Minnelli and the couple became
engaged three days later, despite Minnelli's current betrothal to Desi
Arnaz, Jr., and Sellers still being married.[h]
Their relationship lasted a month before breaking up.
By 1974, Sellers's friends were concerned that he was having a nervous
Directors John and Roy Boulting considered that Sellers was "a deeply
troubled man, distrustful, self-absorbed, ultimately self-destructive. He was
the complete contradiction."
Sellers was shy and insecure when out of character.
When he was invited to appear on Michael
Parkinson's eponymous chat show in 1974, he withdrew the
day before, explaining to Parkinson that "I just can't walk on as
myself". When he was told he could come on as someone else, he appeared
dressed as a member of the Gestapo.
After a few lines in keeping with his assumed character, he stepped out of the
role and settled down and, according to Parkinson himself, "was brilliant,
giving the audience an astonishing display of his virtuosity".
In 1974, Sellers again claimed to have communicated with the long-dead music
hall comic Dan Leno, who advised him to return to the role of Clouseau.
In 1974, Sellers portrayed a "sexually voracious" Queen
Victoria in Joseph McGrath's comedic
biographical film of the Scottish poet William McGonagall, The Great McGonagall, starring
opposite Milligan and Julia Foster.
However, the film was a critical failure, and Sellers's career and life reached
an all-time low. As a result, by 1974 he agreed to accept salaries of £100,000
and 10% of the gross to appear in TV productions and advertisements, well below
the £1 million he had once commanded per film.
In 1973, he appeared in a Benson
& Hedges cinema commercial; in 1975, he appeared in a series of
advertisements for Trans World Airlines, in which he played
several eccentric characters, including Thrifty McTravel, Jeremy 'Piggy' Peak
Thyme and an Italian singer, Vito.
Biographer Michael Starr asserts that Sellers showed enthusiasm towards these
although the airline campaign failed commercially.
A turning point in Sellers's flailing career came in 1974, when he teamed up
with Blake Edwards to make The Return of the Pink Panther,
starring alongside Christopher Plummer, Herbert Lom and Catherine
The film was shot on a budget of £3 million and earned $33 million at the box
office upon release in May 1975, reinvigorating Sellers's career as an A-list
film star and restoring his millionaire status.
The film earned Sellers a nomination for the Best
Actor– Musical or Comedy award at the 33rd Golden Globe Awards.
In 1976, he followed it with The Pink Panther Strikes Again.
During the filming from February to June 1976, the already fraught relationship
between Sellers and Blake Edwards had seriously deteriorated. Edwards says of
the actor's mental state at the time of The Pink Panther Strikes Again,
"If you went to an asylum and you described the first inmate you saw,
that's what Peter had become. He was certifiable."
With declining physical health, Sellers could at times be unbearable on set.
His behaviour was regarded as unprofessional and childish, and he frequently
threw tantrums, often threatening to abandon projects.
Peter Evans mentioned that Sellers was a "volatile and perplexing
character [who] left a trail of misery in his private life".
He also noted that Sellers had a "compulsive personality and [was] an
eccentric hypochondriac" who became addicted to various medicines aside
from his recreational drug habits during this period.
His difficult behaviour during productions was widely reported and made it more
difficult for Sellers to get employment in the industry at a time he most
needed the work.
Despite Sellers's deep personal problems, The Pink Panther Strikes Again
was well received critically. Vincent Canby of The New York Times said
of Sellers in the film, "There is, too, something most winningly seedy
about Mr. Sellers' Clouseau, a fellow who, when he attempts to tear off his
clothes in the heat of passion, gets tangled up in his necktie, and who, when
he masquerades—for reasons never gone into—as Quasimodo, overinflates his hump
Sellers's performance earned him a further nomination at the 34th Golden Globe Awards.
pain to everyone who gets close to him... Even when you're the victim of
his outrageous behaviour, his selfishness, or one of his tantrums, you always
found yourself smiling about it afterwards, even if you had to do it through
Milligan on Peter Sellers.
In March 1976 Sellers began dating actress Lynne
Frederick, whom he married on 18 February 1977.
Biographer Roger Lewis documents that of all of Sellers's wives, Frederick was
the most poorly treated; Julian Upton likened it to a boxing match between a
heavyweight and a featherweight, a relationship that "oscillated from
ardour to hatred, reconciliation and remorse."
Peter Evans claims that Milligan detested his friend's choice of partner and
believed she was to blame for his increasing alcohol and cocaine dependency.
On 20 March 1977, Sellers suffered a second major heart attack during a flight
from Paris to London; he was subsequently fitted with a pacemaker.
Sellers returned from his illness to undertake Revenge of the Pink Panther;
although a commercial success, the critics were tiring of Inspector Clouseau.
Julian Upton expressed the view that the strain behind the scenes began to
manifest itself in the sluggish pace of the film, describing it as a
"laboured, stunt-heavy hotchpotch of half-baked ideas and rehashed gags."
Sellers too had become tired of the role, saying after production, "I've
honestly had enough of Clouseau—I've got nothing more to give".
Bach, the senior vice-president and head of worldwide productions for United
Artists, who worked with Sellers on Revenge of the Pink Panther,
considered that Sellers was "deeply unbalanced, if not committable: that
was the source of his genius and his truly quite terrifying aspects as manipulator
He refused to seek professional help for his mental issues.
Sellers would claim that he had no personality and was almost unnoticeable,
which meant that he "needed a strongly defined character to play".
He would make similar references throughout his life: when he appeared on The
Muppet Show in 1978, a guest appearance that earned him an Emmy nomination for
Outstanding Continuing or Single Performance by a Supporting Actor in Variety
he chose not to appear as himself, instead appearing in a variety of costumes
and accents. When Kermit the Frog told Sellers he could relax and be
himself, Sellers replied:
But that, you see, my dear Kermit, would be altogether
impossible. I could never be myself... You see, there is no me. I do not
exist... There used to be a me, but I had it surgically removed.
—Peter Sellers, The Muppet Show, February 1978
1979, Sellers starred alongside Lynne Frederick, Lionel
Jeffries and Elke Sommer in Richard
Quine's The Prisoner of Zenda. He
portrayed three roles, including King Rudolf IV and King Rudolf V—rulers of the
fictional small nation of Ruritania—and Syd Frewin, Rudolf V's half-brother.
Upon its release in May 1979, the film was well received; Janet
Maslin of The New York Times observed how Sellers divided "his
energies between a serious character and a funny one, but that it was his serious
performance which was more impressive."
However, Philip French, for The Observer, was unimpressed by the film,
describing it as "a mess of porridge" and stating that "Sellers
reveals that he cannot draw the line between the sincere and the
Later in 1979, Sellers starred opposite Shirley
MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas and Jack Warden
in the black
comedy Being There as Chance, a mindless, emotionless
gardener addicted to watching TV.
In a BBC interview in 1971, Sellers had said that more than anything else, he
wanted to play the role, and successfully persuaded the author of the book Jerzy
Kosinski to allow him and director Hal Ashby
to make the film, provided he could write the script.
During the filming, in order to remain in character, Sellers refused most
interview requests and kept his distance from the other actors.
Sellers considered Chance's walking and voice the character's most important
attributes, and in preparing for the role, he worked alone with a tape
recorder, or with his wife, and then with Ashby, to perfect the clear
enunciation and flat delivery needed to reveal "the childlike mind behind
Sellers described his experience of working on the film as "so humbling,
so powerful", and co-star Shirley MacLaine found Sellers "a
dream" to work with.
Sellers's performance was universally lauded by critics and is considered by
critic Danny Smith to be the "crowning triumph of Peter Sellers's
Rich wrote that the acting skill required for this sort of role, with a
"schismatic personality that Peter had to convey with strenuous vocal and
gestural technique… A lesser actor would have made the character's mental
dysfunction flamboyant and drastic… [His] intelligence was always deeper,
his onscreen confidence greater, his technique much more finely honed":
in achieving this, Sellers "makes the film's fantastic premise
The film earned Sellers a Best Actor award at
the 51st National Board of Review
the London Critics Circle Film Awards
Special Achievement Award, the Best Actor award
at the 45th New York Film Critics
and the Best
Actor– Musical or Comedy award at the 37th Golden Globe Awards.
Additionally, Sellers was nominated for the Best Actor award at the 52nd Academy Awards
and the Best Actor in a Leading
Role award at the 34th British Academy Film Awards.
In March 1980 Sellers asked his fifteen-year-old daughter Victoria what she
thought about Being There: she reported later that, "I said yes, I
thought it was great. But then I said, 'You looked like a little fat old
man'.… he went mad. He threw his drink over me and told me to get the
next plane home."
His other daughter Sarah told Sellers her thoughts about the incident and he
sent her a telegram that read "After what happened this morning with Victoria, I shall be
happy if I never hear from you again. I won't tell you what I think of you. It
must be obvious. Goodbye, Your Father."
Sellers's last film was The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu,
a comedic re-imagining of the eponymous adventure novels by Sax Rohmer;
Sellers played both police inspector Nayland Smith and Fu Manchu, alongside Helen
Mirren and David Tomlinson. The production of the film was
troublesome before filming started, with two directors—Richard
Quine and John Avildsen—both fired before the script had been
Sellers also expressed dissatisfaction with his own portrayal of Manchu
with his ill-health often causing delays.
Arguments between Sellers and director Piers
Haggard led to Haggard's firing at Sellers's instigation and Sellers took
over direction, using his long-time friend David Lodge to direct some sequences.
of The Washington Post described the film as
"an indefensibly inept comedy",
adding that "it is hard to name another good actor who ever made so many
bad movies as Sellers, a comedian of great gifts but ferociously faulty
judgment. "Manchu" will take its rightful place alongside such
colossally ill-advised washouts as Tell Me Where It Hurts, The Bobo
and The Prisoner of Zenda".
Sellers's final performances were a series of advertisements for Barclays
Bank. Filmed in April 1980 in Ireland,
he played a Jewish conman, Monty
Four adverts were scheduled, but only three were filmed as Sellers collapsed in
with heart problems.
After two days in care—and against the advice of his doctors—he travelled to
the Cannes Film Festival, where Being There
was in competition.
Sellers was again ill in Cannes,
returning to his residence in Gstaad to work on the script for his next project, Romance of the Pink Panther.
He agreed to undergo an angiogram at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los
Angeles, to see if he was able to undergo open-heart surgery.
Spike Milligan later considered that Sellers's heart condition had lasted
fifteen years and had "made life difficult for him and had a debilitating
effect on his personality".
His fourth marriage was also about to collapse.
Sellers had recently started to rebuild his relationship with his son
Michael after the failure of the latter's marriage. Michael later said that
"it marked the beginning of an all-too-brief closeness between us".
Sellers admitted to his son that "he hated so many things he had
done", including leaving his first wife, Anne, and his infatuation with
On 21 July 1980, Sellers
arrived in London from Geneva. He checked into the Dorchester Hotel,
before visiting Golders Green Crematorium for the first
time to see the location of his parents' ashes.
He had plans to attend a reunion dinner with his Goon Show partners
Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe, scheduled for the evening of 22 July.
On the day of the dinner, Sellers took lunch in his hotel suite and shortly
afterwards collapsed from a heart attack. He was taken to the Middlesex Hospital, London, and died just after midnight on 24
July 1980, aged 54.
Following Sellers's death, fellow actor Richard Attenborough said that Sellers
"had the genius comparable to Chaplin",
while the Boulting brothers considered Sellers as "a man of enormous
gifts; and these gifts he gave to the world. For them, he is assured of a place
in the history of art as entertainment."
who appeared as Cato in the Pink Panther films stated that "Peter
was a well-loved actor in Britain…
the day he died, it seemed that the whole country came to a stop. Everywhere
you went, the fact that Peter had died seemed like an umbrella over
Director Blake Edwards thought that "Peter was brilliant. He had an
enormous facility for finding really unusual, unique facets of the character he
Sellers's friend and Goon Show colleague Harry Secombe said "I'm
shattered. Peter was such a tremendous artist. He had so much talent, it just
oozed out of him";
in dark humour, referring to the missed dinner the Goons had planned, he added,
"Anything to avoid paying for dinner".
Secombe later declared to journalists "Bluebottle is deaded now".
Fellow Goon Spike Milligan was too upset to speak to the press at the time of
He later commented that "it's hard to say this, but he died at the right
The Daily Mail described Sellers as a "the greatest comic talent of
his generation as well as a womanising drug-taker who married four times in a
fruitless search for happiness, a "flawed genius" who once latched on
to a comic idea, "loved nothing more than to carry it to extremes."
A private funeral service was held at Golders Green Crematorium on 26 July,
conducted by Sellers's old friend, Canon John Hester;
his final joke was the playing of "In the Mood"
Miller, a tune he hated.
His body was cremated and his ashes were interred at Golders Green Crematorium
After her death in 1994, the ashes of his widow Frederick were co-interred with
A memorial service was held at St Martin-in-the-Fields on 8 September
1980—what would have been Sellers's 55th birthday.
Close friend Lord Snowdon read the twenty-third Psalm, Harry Secombe sang
"Bread of Heaven" and the eulogy was read by
Although Sellers was reportedly in the process of excluding Frederick from
his will a week before he died, she inherited almost his entire estate worth an
estimated £4.5 million (£14,381,544 in 2013 pounds)
while his children received £800 each
(£2,557 in 2013 pounds).
Spike Milligan appealed to her on behalf of Sellers's three children, but she
refused to increase the amount.[i]
Sellers's only son, Michael, died of a heart attack at 52 during surgery on 24
July 2006, 26 years to the day after his father's death.
In 1982, Blake Edwards tried to continue with Romance of the Pink Panther
and offered the role of Clouseau to Dudley
Moore, who turned it down. Edwards subsequently released Trail of the Pink Panther, which was
composed entirely of deleted scenes from his past three Panther films.
the film as an exploitation of Sellers, and she successfully sued the film's
producers for unauthorised use of her late husband's image.
"I start with
the voice. I find out how the character sounds. It's through the way he
speaks that I find out the rest about him.... After the voice comes the
looks of the man. I do a lot of drawings of the character I play. Then I get
together with the makeup man and we sort of transfer my drawings onto my face.
An involved process. After that I establish how the character walks. Very
important, the walk. And then, suddenly, something strange happens. The
person takes over. The man you play begins to exist."
Vincent Canby of The New York Times said of the Pink Panther films,
"I'm not sure why Mr. Sellers and Mr. Lom are such a hilarious team,
though it may be because each is a fine comic actor with a special talent for
portraying the sort of all-consuming, epic self-absorption that makes slapstick
farce initially acceptable—instead of alarming—and finally so funny."
Film critic Elvis Mitchell has said that Sellers was one of the
few comic geniuses who was able to truly hide behind his characters, giving the
audience no sense of what he's really like in real life.
A feature of the characterisations undertaken by Sellers is that regardless of
how clumsy or idiotic they are, he ensured they always retain their dignity.
On his playing of Clouseau Sellers said: "I set out to play Clouseau with
great dignity because I feel that he thinks he is probably one of the greatest
detectives in the world. The original script makes him out to be a complete
idiot. I thought a forgivable vanity would humanise him and make him kind of
His biographer, Ed Sikov, notes that because of this retained dignity, Sellers
is "the master of playing men who have no idea how ridiculous they are."
Social historian Sam Wasson notes the complexity in Sellers's performances in
the Pink Panther films, which has the effect of alienating Clouseau from
his environment. Wesson considers that "As 'low' and 'high' comedy rolled
into one, it's the performative counterpoint to Edwardian sophisticated naturalism".
This combination of "high" and "low", exemplified by
Clouseau's attempting to retain dignity after a fall, means that within the
film Clouseau was "the sole representative of humanity".
Film critic Dilys Powell also saw the inherent dignity in the parts and wrote
that Sellers had a "balance between character and absurdity".
Richard Attenborough also thought that because of his sympathy, Sellers could
"inject into his characterisations the frailty and substance of a human
Author Aaron Sultanik observed that in Sellers's early films, such as I'm
Alright Jack, he displays "deft, technical interpretations [that]
pinpoint the mechanical nature of his comic characterization", which
"...reduces each of his characters to a series of gross, awkward tics."
Academic Cynthia Baron observed that Sellers's external characterisations led
to doubt with reviewers as to whether Sellers's work was "true"
Milne saw a change over Sellers's career and thought that his "comic
genius as a character actor was… stifled by his elevation to leading
man" and his later films suffered as a result.
Sultanik agreed, commenting that Sellers's "exceptional vocal and physical
technique" was under-used during his career in the US.
Academics Maria Pramaggiore and Tom Wallis remarked that Sellers fits the
mould of a technical actor because he displays a mastery of physical
characterisation, such as accent or physical trait.
Writer and playwright John Mortimer saw the process for himself when
Sellers was about to undertake filming on Mortimer's The
Dock Brief and could not decide how to play the character of the
barrister. By chance he ordered cockles for lunch and the smell brought back a
memory of the seaside town of Morecambe: this gave him "the idea of a faded North Country accent and the suggestion of a scrappy
So important was the voice as the starting point for character development
Sellers would walk round London with a reel-to-reel tape recorder,
recording voices to study at home.
New York Magazine stated that
all of the films starring Sellers as Clouseau showcased his "comedic
Sellers's friend and Goon Show colleague Spike Milligan said that
Sellers "had one of the most glittering comic talents of his age",
while John and Roy Boulting noted that he was "the greatest comic genius
this country has produced since Charles
Irv Slifkin said that the most prominent albeit ever-changing face in comedies
of the sixties was Sellers who "changed like a chameleon throughout the
era, dazzling audiences".
In a 2005 poll to find "The Comedian's Comedian", Sellers was voted
14 in the list of the top 20 greatest comedians by fellow comedians and comedy
Sellers and The Goon Show were a strong influence on the Monty
as well as on Peter Cook,
who described Sellers as "the best comic actor in the world".
The British actor Stephen Mangan stated that Sellers was a large
as did comedians Alan Carr
Sacha Baron Cohen referred to Peter Sellers as
"the most seminal force in shaping [his] early ideas on comedy".
Cohen was considered for the role of Sellers in the biographical film The
Life and Death of Peter Sellers.
The three members of Spinal Tap—Michael
McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry
Shearer—have also cited Sellers as being an influence on them,
as has American talk-show host Conan
Schwimmer is another whose approach was influenced by Sellers: "he
could do anything, from Dr Strangelove to Inspector Clouseau. He was just
Izzard notes that the Goons "influenced a new generation of comedians
who came to be known as 'alternative'"—including himself,
while media historian Graham McCann states "the anarchic spirit of the
Goon Show… would inspire, directly or indirectly and to varying
extents,… The Hitchhiker's Guide to the
Galaxy, The Young Ones, Vic Reeves Big Night Out, The League of Gentlemen [and] Brass Eye."
The stage play Being Sellers premiered in Australia in 1998, three years
after release of the biography by Roger Lewis,
The Life and Death of Peter Sellers. The play premiered in New York in December
2010. In 2004, the book was turned into an HBO film with the same title,
starring Geoffrey Rush.
The Belfast Telegraph notes how the film
captured Sellers's "life of drugs, drink, fast cars and lots and lots of
Although the film was widely praised by critics, both Lord Snowdon and Britt
Ekland were highly critical of the film and the enactment of Sellers;
Ekland believed that the film left the audiences with the wrong impression,
saying "the film leaves you with the impression that Peter Sellers was
essentially a likeable man when in reality he was a monster. He may have been a
brilliant actor, but as a human being he had no saving graces at all".
Selected works, based on award
The Running Jumping
& Standing Still Film
I'm All Right Jack
Won– British Academy Film Award for
Best British Actor
Waltz of the Toreadors
General Leo Fitzjohn
Won– San Sebastián International
Film Festival for Best Actor
Only Two Can Play
Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Group Captain Lionel Mandrake
President Merkin Muffley
Nominated– British Academy Film Award for
Best British Actor
The Pink Panther
Inspector Jacques Clouseau
Nominated– British Academy Film Award for
Best British Actor
The Optimists of Nine Elms
Film Festival Award for Best Actor
The Return of the Pink Panther
Inspector Jacques Clouseau
Won– The Evening News
British Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated– Golden Globe Award for Best Actor–
Musical or Comedy
The Pink Panther Strikes Again
Inspector Jacques Clouseau
Won– National Board of Review Award
for Best Actor
Won– New York Film Critics Circle
Award for Best Actor
Won– Golden Globe Award for Best Actor–
Musical or Comedy
Won– London Film Critics Circle Award
for Best Actor
Nominated– British Academy Film Award for
Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated– Academy Award for Best Actor
(COURTESY OF WIKIPEDIA)
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Rare Peter Sellers Signed Album Page Autographed + Original Pink Panther Photo: $124