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A profile of Peter Sellers

Updated on March 7, 2015

Richard Henry Sellers was born 8 September 1925, Southsea, Hampshire, Great Britain, his parents Bill and Agnes Sellers both worked for a touring theatre company. Both his parents would call Sellers by his older stillborn brothers name Peter. As a youngster, Sellers went to Miss Whitey School of Dance in Southsea and Madame Vacani's Dancing Classes in London. When he was older he went to St Aloysius' Boarding and Day School for Boys. As a teenager, he played drums in a jazz band, also learned the banjo and ukulele.

In 1943, when Sellers was eighteen he was drafted into the Royal Air Force. While serving in the Military he spent his spare time performing comedy routines and playing the drums to other Servicemen. After the war finished Sellers returned home and applied to auditions at the BBC. In the years that followed Sellers was turned down repeatedly by the BBC for roles on their programmes, Sellers was desperate to get noticed. Pretending to impersonate a well-known radio star, he telephoned Roy Speers head of the BBC radio show called Showtime. Speers was so impressed by Sellers impersonation he decided to offer him a part on Showtime. His first appearance on Showtime went down well with audiences, producers realised the potential that Sellers had to offer. It wasn’t long until other radio producers were contacting him. His next part was in the Goon Show where he starred alongside Harry Secombe, Spike Milligan and Michael Bentine. The success of the long-running Goon show proved very popular with radio audiences, Sellers was emerging as a superb impressionist.

Sellers made his first debut film in Let’s Go Crazy in 1951, and the same year he starred in Penny Points To Paradise. And the next year he appeared in Down Among The Z men, in 1955 the film LadyKillers Sellers starred along with Alec Guinness in playing a bungling criminal. Sellers who were quickly becoming a rising star in films, having married Anne Howe his marriage ended when he affair with an actress.

In 1957, he landed a role in the film The Naked Truth as game show host, and the following year playing a Military Officer in Up The Creek. The same year he starred in his first American film, Tom Thumb a fantasy film based on a fairy tale. In 1959, he played three film roles in The Mouse That Roars, In the same year he played a comic part in I’m Alright Jack. Again in 1959 he appeared in Lolita the film which saw him star as a disturbed playwright. In 1960 Sellers, played a murderous car dealer in Never Let Go, in that year he also played a shop steward turned Communist Strike Leader in Dr StrangleGlove for which he won his first BAFTA award.

Blake Edwards a film director managed to cast Sellers in the lead role as Inspector Clouseau a slow-witted, comical, French Detective, in his up and coming film The Pink Panther. The film was a huge success; Sellers again played Clouseau in the sequel Shot in the Dark in 1964. The same year he played a number of characters in How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb. In 1964 while taking drugs with his second wife actress Brit Eklund, he suffered his first major heart attack. Doctors strongly advised him to slow down his workload or possible consider heart surgery, deciding to use physic healers proved only to exacerbate his condition even further throughout the sixties and seventies.

In 1965 Sellers, starred in what’s New Pussycat with an all-star cast including Woody Allen, 1966 he starred in the film After the Fox playing a jewel thief. 1968 Sellers was offered to reprise his role as Inspector Clouseau, he turned it down because of disputes with Edwards. Actor Alan Akin played the part of Clouseau, strangely angering Sellers. Despite Edwards and Sellers issues with one another they did work together in the film The Party in 1968. An international star, Sellers was considered by the public to be one of the most successful actors of his generation. In his personal life, his second marriage to Brit Eklund had deteriorated and they both separated. Deep down Sellers was becoming unhappy he was turning more to drink and drugs as means of escaping his problems. In the seventies, Sellers starred in Films like There’s a Girl in My Soup 1970, Where Does It Hurt 1972 and Ghost in the Noonday Sun 1973. Sellers feeling depressed at the growing failures of the films, his growing dependency on drink and drugs could only make his health problems worse. Sellers fell in love with and married Australian Model Miranda Quarry in 1970 unfortunately though the marriage only lasted four years.

Returning to the role of Inspector Clouseau he made a further three films with Edwards, Sellers had previously fallen out with Edwards over the part of Clouseau. Resolving their differences, Return of the Pink Panther was released in 1974 which put Sellers back in the limelight again. Then followed The Pink Panther Strikes again 1976 and then lastly Revenge of the Pink Panther in 1978. Sellers met and fell in love with for the last time with Lynne Frederick whom he married having three children with her. In 1977 after suffering a second heart attack, Sellers had no option other than to now be fitted with a pacemaker. Deciding now to finally act on Doctors advise for heart surgery he was about to be operated on. Just before he attended a Goon Show reunion in 1980 along other with other co-stars from the show. He collapsed at the Dorchester Hotel in London, rushed into Hospital he spent two days in a coma before he died.


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