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Sellers, Peter


SELLERS, PETER (Richard Henry ; 1925–1980), British actor. Born in Portsmouth, the son of a non-Jewish pianist and a Jewish mother, Agnes née Marks, Peter Sellers was educated at a Catholic school to the age of 14 and was originally a jazz drummer. Joining the raf in 1943, he discovered his talent for mimicry while entertaining the forces in India. After the war he worked in vaudeville and in 1952, with Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe, began The Goon Show, a radio comedy series that became a national favorite. Success took him into television and the London theater. After several small film roles, he appeared with Alec Guinness in The Ladykillers (1956). He first won wide notice in the U.S. with The Mouse That Roared (1959), in which he played several roles. Though most of his films were comedies, he won the British Film Academy Award for his serious portrayal of a union member in I'm All Right, Jack, a 1959 satire on trade unionism. His other films include Dr. Strangelove (1963), in which he played three roles; What's New, Pussycat? (1965); The Return of the Pink Panther (1975); Murder by Death (1976); The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976); Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978); and Being There (1979). Sellers was one of the most famous and memorable British comic actors of his time.


P. Evans, Peter Sellers: The Mask Behind the Mask (1968). add. bibliography: odnb online; A. Walker, Peter Sellers (1981); M. Starr, Peter Sellers (1991); R. Lewis, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (1994).

[Lee Healey /

Jonathan Licht]

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