1925 - 1980
Actor Peter Sellers, best known for his Inspector Clouseau role, died July 24, 1980. He was 54.
Sellers was born Richard Henry Sellers on September 8, 1925 in Southsea, Hampshire, England. The son of vaudeville parents, he traveled with his parents and gained a love and appreciation for show business, deciding it was also his career choice.
Sellers was a student of dancing at two different schools in England. Just prior to World War II, he was playing the drums in a jazz band.
Drafted by the British Royal Air Force at age 18, he spent his military time entertaining the troops by playing the drums and performing comedy.
After the war, Sellers persuaded the British Broadcasting System to hire him. He became a master impressionist, inventing such characters as Major Bloodnok, Bluebottle, and Henry Crun on the popular BBC show, The Goon Show.
When the show was cancelled in 1960, Sellers returned to films. His first success in the American market had been The Mouse That Roared in 1959.
Sellersí signature role was as Inspector Clouseau, a part he first played in the 1963 film The Pink Panther. Four more sequels followed---A Shot in the Dark, The Return of the Pink Panther, The Pink Panther Strikes Again, and The Revenge of the Pink Panther.
One of his movies has achieved cult status. The 1964 film, Dr. Strangelove, is considered one of Sellersí best in showcasing his multi-character talents. He plays the eccentric Dr. Strangelove as well as the President of the United States.
The movie is a spoof of the Cold War in which a U.S. bomber drops a nuclear bomb on the Soviet Union. The filmís most hilarious moments are when Slim Pickens rides the bomb down cowboy style, and Sellersí Dr. Strangelove who canít control his injured hand, which periodically tries to strangle him.
Dr. Strangelove earned Sellers his first Oscar nomination. His second came with the film, Being There, in 1979.
And while his show business career was successful, Sellersí personal life was tumultuous. He married four times, and had three children.
His 60-film career ended abruptly on July 24, 1980 when Sellers died of a massive heart attack.