Peter Sellers - Actor and Goon

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You silly, twisted boy, you1

Peter Sellers was one of the most talented actors and voice artists of the 20th Century. Appearing in classic radio comedy series The Goon Show as well as 67 films, he is considered to be one of the most complicated stars of his time. He was a man who could be anyone, yet did not know who he was himself.


An image of the actor Peter Sellers, in a spotlight.

In 1924 in Dublin, Peter Sellers was born. He was the son of musician Bill Sellers2 and performer Peg Sellers3. Within a week he died. His family agreed they would never speak of him again.

On 8 September, 1925 during a performance in Southsea, Peg Sellers began contractions but continued with her show. She then rushed to the flat they were renting above the chip shop, and their second son Richard Henry Sellers as born. He, too, would be known as 'Peter' after his older brother who died at birth.

Growing up, his father spent most of his time on tour, either leaving Peter at home with his mother for very long periods or taking Peter along with him. For much of this period Bill and Peg separated, leaving Peter without a male role model. After the death of his elder brother, Peg doted on her surviving son to an extreme extent, bordering on worship. Peter was never told off and was given anything he was asked for. The only thing he lacked was company his own age, his only companions were his smothering mother and the BBC Radio.

After the collapse of vaudeville, his mother used to raise money by travelling to country towns and villages, claiming to be from a fictitious company called 'London Gold Refiners Company Ltd', buying gold to sell on at a profit in London. At this period Peter and his mother often moved house, usually around the north London area, as this was cheaper than paying rent. Peter Sellers would spend the rest of his life regularly changing home.

Peter's few school years began when he was enrolled at Saint Aloysius Catholic School4 in London at the age of 11. As he had grown up without an education he was demoted to the year below, and again did not mix with children his own age. At the age of 14, in 1939, he left school. Shortly after his 15th birthday the flat that he and his mother shared suffered minor damage during a bombing raid and they promptly moved to Ilfracombe, Devon to escape the blitz.

The Second World War

During the Second World War Peter and his father joined the Entertainmaints National Service Association, entertaining troops and factory workers to raise morale. Peter joined as a drummer and ukulele player in a band with his father and George Formby's sister Ethel. Following his 18th birthday in September 1943 he was called up, and so enlisted in the RAF. His poor eyesight prevented his ambition of becoming a pilot, and so became 2223033 Airman Second Class, the lowest rank in the RAF. Finding servicing aircraft unfulfilling, he auditioned and joined the RAF's Gang Show, another entertainment organisation aimed to raise morale.

Peter Sellers was sent to India and Burma in 1944-5, followed by France and Germany. It was during the war that he met first David Lodge and later Graham Stark and Bryan Forbes, who would be his closest friends for life.

Post War

After being discharged in 1948 Peter Sellers returned to a Britain in the middle of rationing, with each person allowed only thirteen ounces of meat, two pints of milk, one and half ounces of cheese and one egg a week. Peter advertised his services of drumming and impressions, however drumming had changed since before the war and his style was considered flamboyant and archaic, so reluctantly Sellers abandoned his drumming career to pursue comedy. In March 1948 he found a job as a comic at the Windmill Theatre, a strip club, although the women, when naked, were forbidden by law from moving. Later in 1948 he phoned up the BBC impersonating a star of a radio comedy series and managed to get onto radio show Show Time on 1 July 1948. As he was very well received his debut was quickly followed by other radio appearances.

1950s – Goon but not Forgotten

In 1951 he joined Harry Secombe and Spike Milligan in The Goon Show, the first series entitled Crazy People along with Michael Bentine, playing several characters over the next decade including Bluebottle, Major Bloodnok, Henry Crun, Hercules Grytpype-Thynne and Willium 'Mate' Cobblers5. During this time they made some minor films and on 15 September 1951 he married his first wife, Anne Levy. She would be mother to his son, Michael, in 1954, and first daughter6 Sarah in 1957.

The 1950s - Early Film Career

Despite his fame as a radio comedian, he was desperate to be an actor, inspired by Stan Laurel and Alec Guinness. In 1955 he had a minor role in his first real film, The Ladykillers, starring Alec Guinness and Herbert Lom. Peter was truly in awe of Guinness, asking for his advice at any opportunity. After this film in 1956 he made three television series, written by Spike Milligan and directed by Richard 'Dick' Lester, Idiot Weekly, Price 2d, followed by A Show Called Fred and Son of Fred, followed by Yes, It's the Cathode-Ray Tube Show! by Michael Bentine in 1957. These would later inspire Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Also in 1957 he would co-star in The Naked Truth, his first co-starring role. He would first star in The Mouse That Roared, a 1959 film in which he played three roles: Tully Bascombe, Prime Minister Mountjoy and Grand Duchess Gloriana XII7. Sellers' chief hobby was collecting gadgets, especially cameras, and making his own films. In 1959 he bought a new camera and asked his friends Spike Milligan, Graham Stark and Dick Lester8 to come round while he trid it out. The result was The Running, Jumping & Standing Still Film, an 11-minute long short film, Oscar-nominated in the Short Subject (Live Action) category, which led to Dick Lester being asked by the Beatles to direct A Hard Day's Night9.

This was followed, also in 1959, by I'm All Right Jack, his first straight, non comedic acting role. Playing shop-steward Fred Kite, Peter Sellers won the Best Actor BAFTA for his sensational performance and the film was the most successful film in Britain in 1959.

1960s – The Rise and Fall

In 1960 he appeared as a leading-man in The Millionairess. At first he was uninterested in playing George Bernard Shaw's selfless Doctor Kabir10, but when he found out his co-star would be Sophia Loren he eagerly agreed. This was a role for which he would be paid $50,000 and Sophia $200,000. During the filming Peter fell in love with Sophia11, which led to the break-up of his marriage when Anne left him. This film also had two promotional singles by Sellers and Loren; the first was 'Goodness Gracious Me', a number four hit that inspired the comedy series Goodness Gracious Me12. The second was the less successful 'Bangers and Mash', about an Englishman who marries an Italian woman who wants to eat sausages but instead is always given spaghetti, which peaked at number 22.

In April 1960 Sellers went on a trip to America to promote his films. However he quickly discovered a profound hatred for Hollywood which remained for the rest of his life, and left soon after. On his arrival he overheard a film company representative inform his hotel receptionist that 'The property has arrived', a term of address which angered and humiliated him, and in the news was the story that one of Seller's childhood heroes, Charlie Chaplin, was to be denied a star on Hollywood's walk of fame for political reasons, a slight he considered a personal insult13.

Following The Millionairess, Sellers was determined to be a leading-man. He decided he should be able to change his appearance as easily as he could change his voice, and slimmed down drastically. His next film role was Mr Topaze, which he also directed, a largely forgotten film that also co-starred Herbert Lom. This showed that for all of his talent, Sellers did not know how to direct other people and would later disassociate himself from this film.

This failure was short-lived. In 1961 he appeared in Only Two Can Play, cast by his friend Bryan Forbes who had written the screenplay, which was one of the year's most successful British films. In 1962 he worked with legendary director Stanley Kubrick, who would later direct 2001: A Space Odyssey, for the first time. He had 14 days free in which to appear as the minor character of Clare Quilty in Lolita. Despite this, he expanded his minor role and was nominated for a Golden Globe. Stanley Kubrick would be the director he enjoyed working with the most.

Despite his career's success, his separation from his wife Anne and the death of his father from heart attack in 1961 badly affected him. His chauffeur and friend, Bert Mortimer, moved into his penthouse for fear that Sellers would commit suicide. The only thing which seemed to keep Sellers going was an obsession he had on marrying his friend Bryan Forbes' wife, actress Nanette Newman, with whom he had starred in 1962's The Wrong Arm of the Law. In this period he returned to the safety of doing familiar and reassuring Goon voices for puppet television series The Telegoons.

1964 – Doctor Pantherlove, or: How I Learned to Shoot in the Dark and Love the Pink Clouseau

1964 was perhaps the pinnacle of Peter Sellers career. Sellers appeared in The Pink Panther as a last-minute replacement for Sir Peter Ustinov. This was a minor role, billed fifth after Sir Charles Lytton, Simone Clouseau, George Lytton and Princess Dala, however with director Blake Edwards' support he transformed the role he had been given into the starring lead without changing the screenplay through his physical presence and talent. This was to be the first of five times he would play Clouseau, his most famous character.

This film was followed by Dr Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb14, in which Peter Sellers played three characters; American President Merkin Muffley, Group Captain Lionel Mandrake and nuclear physicist Dr Strangelove. He had also been contracted to play Major 'King' Kong, a role he was reluctant to perform, but a sprained ankle injury, possibly self-inflicted or even imaginary, prevented him, and so Slim Pickens was cast. Afterwards he returned to work with Blake Edwards for the second Inspector Clouseau film, A Shot in the Dark. This had originated as a French play and evolved into a Pink Panther film almost by accident after the production was initially troubled. During the making of A Shot in the Dark, Peter Sellers met and married Britt Ekland.

Hard Hearted

Shortly afterwards he was signed up to appear in Billy Wilder's Kiss Me, Stupid. During the making of the film he had frequent clashes with the director15. Sellers, more shy and nervous about filming than generally realised, liked a quiet set in which to work and have room to improvise dialogue. Wilder liked to invite his family and friends, and their family and friends, to watch him work and, having written the scripts with his writing partner I Diamond, would not allow anyone to deviate by as much as one word. A clash of personalities was inevitable, and the stress caused, combined with amyl nitrate, the sexual-performance enhancing drug he was regularly taking, and the body-building regime aimed at improving his physique, caused a series of heart attacks 8 April, 1964. A series of 13 heart attacks in a short space of time followed, with Sellers dead on more than one occasion, but the doctors were able to resuscitate him. Recovering from the ordeal, the doctors advised him to rest and avoid working for several months. Billy Wilder fired Sellers from Kiss Me, Stupid, saying 'Heart attack? You have to have a heart before you can have an attack.'

Following his heart attacks, Sellers was considered an insurance risk and initially no film studio would hire him in a starring role. Unsurprisingly, when interviewed by his friend, journalist Alexander Walker, he was a little disappointed and said, 'As far as Hollywood is concerned, I've taken the round trip for good. They give you every creature comfort except the satisfaction of being able to get the best work out of yourself.' This caused a tremendous anti-Sellers backlash in Hollywood, led by Billy Wilder who published an article calling him a 'Unprofessional rat fink', and has been attributed as the reason why he did not win the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in Dr Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Following his heart attack, Sellers returned to acting by first appearing in charity television special, Carol for Another Christmas. His first film role after was in 1965's What's New Pussycat?, Woody Allen's first film, playing Dr Fassbender. Shortly after his second daughter, Victoria, his only child with Britt, was born. Sellers and his wife next appeared in 1966's After the Fox, directed by Italian director Vittorio De Sica, famous for the award-winning Bicycle Thieves. It was De Sica who informed Peter that purple was the colour of death, a superstition that would haunt him for the rest of his life but play no part in his actual demise. During the filming, the marriage began to unravel, as Sellers became very critical of his wife's performance. In November 1966 he sang 'A Hard Day's Night' for ITV television show The Music of Lennon and McCartney with a Laurence Olivier impersonation. This single was released in December, becoming a number 14 hit.

The Name's Sellers, Peter Sellers

1967 was dominated by the most famous flop of his career, Casino Royale. Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel's film rights had been bought by a different company that had bought all subsequent Bond film rights, and had even made an American television film of Casino Royale in 1954, before Bond was famous. As Sean Connery had made James Bond a famous household name, the producer Charles Feldman cast Peter Sellers to be James Bond in 1964. Initially this role was to be played straight, and Sellers' attempts to become fitter and stronger contributed to his heart attacks. Columbia Pictures would finance the film, to cost $4million.

The film's initial writer, Ben Heht, had died, and so a succession of eleven writers16 contributed scenes and re-wrote, deleted or re-installed scenes. There were six directors17, as directors were fired by Sellers, hired by Charles Feldman who believed filming with multiple directors would speed production, or quit. Sellers, who was originally keen on starring opposite Orson Welles, playing Le Chiffre, became terrified of him. He refused to be in the same room as Welles, and so in the film it is obvious that when they are supposed to be in the same scene their two halves were filmed separately, sometimes on different sets. Both Sellers and Welles refused to work at the same time as each other. Both frequently did not turn up, disappearing to have holidays, and suddenly Sellers quit before he had finished filming all his scenes. After eight months and over $12million, the cobbled-together film was released in cinemas in April 1967. It flopped and, as producer Charles Feldman had died, Sellers was blamed for its failure.

1960s & 1970s Nadir

His next film, The Bobo, co-starring Britt Ekland, also flopped and during its making Sellers and Ekland divorced and Sellers' mother, Peg, died from a heart attack. He was asked to star in Inspector Clouseau, but declined. Instead his next film, The Party, was directed by Blake Edwards and was only a modest success. His next few films would either fail or not even be released.

In 1969, when filming The Magic Christian18 with Ringo Starr, he proposed to Miranda Quarry, stepdaughter of Lord Mancroft. He married her in 1970 but almost immediately regretted it, considering Miranda too intelligent for him. Miranda and her friends had a privileged background and had been to the best schools. Sellers, having had practically no schooling, did not feel they had much in common and resented being asked by her friends and family to constantly entertain and amuse. After spending much of their time living in different countries, they divorced in 1974. This was perhaps inevitable after he announced an engagement to Liza Minelli in 1973, although they never married.

Between 1970-1973, Sellers made three films that were not released in his lifetime. The first is regarded as his best film in the early 70s, The Blockhouse, a film about a group of soldiers buried alive in a well-provisioned bunker during the Second World War. This was followed by the low budget A Day on the Beach and the never finished Ghost in the Noonday Sun. The films that made it into cinema screens left them promptly after with little impact or reward. No Hollywood company was willing to hire Sellers, and other than filming adverts, in early 1974 his film career appeared to be over.

The Return of the Film Career

In 1974 Lew Grade decided to make a television series about Inspector Clouseau, to star Peter Sellers. Director Blake Edwards, who himself had been going through a career low, persuaded him to make a film instead. The result, The Return of the Pink Panther, was the second most successful film of 1975 after Jaws and re-established Sellers as a film star, shortly before a second serious heart attack in 1976. Despite this, Sellers carried on working hard on detective spoof Murder by Death and filmed another two Pink Panther films, having a heart attack between these two in 1977. The three 1970s Pink Panther films each made over $100,000,000 making the Pink Panther series at the time the second most successful film series after the Bond films. Despite his continued heart problems, Sellers, once again successful and married for the fourth time in 1977 to Lynne Frederick, was determined to make the film of his career. This was a role that he felt he had been destined for throughout the 1970s; Chance the gardener.

Being There

In 1971 Jerry Kosinski published Being There, a book about Chance, an empty, emotionless gardener who is forced to leave his a small, secluded garden and face the outside world. His simple, uncomplicated and often foolish view of the world is mistaken for great wisdom, and he eventually becomes elected as the President of America. Sellers felt that this role was perfect for him, and found personal meaning in the hero. From 1971 onwards Sellers was obsessed with making this film, with his secretary Sue Evans saying, 'You have to understand that Being There was a daily conversation.'

After the success of the Pink Panther films Sellers was finally in a position to be able to get the film made, although shortly before filming started in 1979 he suffered a heart attack. This he covered up in order to prevent the cancellation of his project. Playing Chance with Stan Laurel-like dignity, Sellers was nominated for an Oscar for his performance despite the controversy of the film's ending, in which Chance walked on water. The American version of the film ended with outtakes over the closing credits, something which angered Sellers who insisted for the European release that these outtakes be removed in order to preserve the film's impact. Sellers did not win the Oscar, losing to Dustin Hoffman in Kramer vs Kramer.


Shortly after, Sellers, when arranging to attend a Goon reunion with Harry Secombe and Spike Milligan, as well as planning on finally undergoing heart surgery Peter Sellers died following a heart attack on 24 July 1980. His last wife Lynne Frederick, following a drug addiction, died at the age of 39 fourteen years later in 1994.

Sellers last intentional film role was The Fiendish Plot of Dr Fu Manchu, a film which was released after his death. In 1982 a series of scenes starring Sellers deleted from The Pink Panther Strikes Again were edited and dubbed over to create the first 37 minutes of Trail of the Pink Panther. Lynne Frederick promptly sued claiming that this film was an insult to her husband's memory and breached the 1958 Performers Protection Act and was awarded over $1.5 million in damages.

The life and death of Peter Sellers would later be dramatised in the film The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, in which he was played by Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rusch.

Who was Peter Sellers?

Peter Sellers was more than a list of the films he appeared in, yet presented a different side of himself to everyone around him. However all agree that Sellers seemed to always require something new and exciting, whether a new house, new car, new gadget, new role or new woman, hoping that it would somehow give his life satisfaction and meaning, something for which by all accounts he desperately craved.

Personal Beliefs

He was the son of a Jewish mother, a Protestant father and had attended a Catholic school as a child. His close friends Harry Secombe and Reverend John Hester, active members of the Actor's Church Union, almost persuaded him to be baptised Anglican. He chose not to, feeling that it would betray his Jewish heritage, but insisted that Hester be his daughter Victoria's godfather and that she be baptised Anglican. In later life Sellers had a profound interest in Hare Krishna and Buddhism. Sellers, by all accounts, spent his entire life believing in little men.

Peter Sellers was tremendously superstitious throughout his life. His mother Peg, being in the theatre trade, regularly visited the gypsy fortune-tellers that were often found around. Sellers too adopted the same attitude.
The first prophecy reportedly told that he would become famous, have four wives, recover from a serious illness and died in bed at the age of 75, a belief he clung to when dying at the age of 54 in 1980.

Throughout his career he relied heavily on his personal clairvoyant, Maurice Woodruff, whose predictions seemed uncannily accurate. What Sellers did not know was that Woodruff was in collusion with his agent. Woodruff advised Sellers to sign up to film deals that his agent secretly informed him about. Sellers' agent was able to control his star, Sellers felt that Woodruff had a real talent for predicting the future and Woodruff kept an influential, wealthy client impressed that he had powers. It did occasionally go wrong. When Woodruff predicted that Sellers would have a successful, lasting relationship with someone with the initials 'BE', meaning director Blake Edwards, Sellers immediately married Britt Ekland, eleven days after meeting her.

His personal beliefs meant that instead of having proper treatment on his heart in 1976 following his second heart attack, Sellers went to see 'psychic surgeons', or con men, in the Philippines. Had he had a proper operation, it is likely he would have lived for longer than his remaining four years.

Musical Talent

In addition to his voice and acting work, Sellers continued to play the drums and ukulele throughout his career. He also released singles and had three hits in the top twenty; 'Any Old Iron' (1957), 'Goodness Gracious Me' (1960), his most successful, reaching number four and 'A Hard Day's Night' (1966). When filming for The Party Sellers was taught how to play the sitar by world-renowned sitar player Ravi Shankar, a close friend of George Harrison.

Acting Method

Sellers' formative years had been spent in radio and television, formats that at the time were predominantly live entertainment. Consequently, when making films he tended to excel on the first take, do well on his second but after that his performance began to drop quite remarkably, partly also as a consequence of his need for the new rather than repeat himself. His career in the theatre was consequently short lived. Sellers did comedy tours before and during the war and briefly with Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe at the height of the Goon's success. Sellers gave up touring when, after an audience failed to be entertained by Spike, he and Secombe found Spike in his dressing room putting his head in a noose in a suicide attempt.

Peter Sellers was renowned for feeling so little identity of his own that he would emotionally become the character he was playing, saying, 'When I finish a picture I feel a horrible sudden loss of identity' when interviewed. He told reporter and friend Alexander Walker that he felt that it was an almost spiritual experience, and that he felt possessed by different characters. His first wife Anne has said that Sellers completely changed character depending on the role he was playing; when he was a villain then he would become violent at home. Sellers' gift for impersonation has been said to have come from a desire to be more than he was. His son Michael, however, believed that Sellers promoted this aspect as a self-created myth for publicity purposes, and that there was no truth in it.

One of Sellers' earliest starring roles was in 1964's The World of Henry Orient, in which his character is told that superstars do not have to turn up for rehearsals, as whether or not they are there, they remains superstars. Sadly from that moment on, often when he was cast in a film after a period of success, Sellers adapted the same 'I'm the star, I don't need to turn up on time' attitude. However when his previous films had failed he would work extremely hard with a strong desire to be back on top. However he was also an extremely shy actor who felt unable to cope on busy film sets or around Orson Welles.


Peter never really understood the value of money. As a child, anything he wanted he had been given. In his early adult years he was issued his possessions in the RAF, followed by his rationed allocation when he was demobbed, and by the time rationing ended he was successful enough to be able to afford anything that he wanted. Peter Sellers assumed he was able to afford what he wanted to buy, and he was right.

In 1962 when making Only Two Can Play, his contract was for a percentage of the film's profit. After shooting ended he sold his percentage for £17,500. The film was successful and his share would have given him over £120,000. The producers offered to restore his original contract but Peter never bothered to sign.

Sellers used to regularly give money anonymously to beggars, possibly as a result of his father telling him when he grew up that being a beggar would be his fate, and the most that Sellers could hope to be was a dustman.


Like other celebrities including Paul McCartney and Frank Sinatra, Peter Sellers became an honorary NYPD detective. This was because of his role in playing Inspector Clouseau. He never actually arrested anyone in America, but had done a citizen's arrest on a bad driver in Britain.

Peter Sellers was also awarded the CBE. According to his son Michael, disappointed he had not been awarded a title, he binned the medal, but kept the scroll signed by the Queen framed and hung in the toilet.

Although he won a Best Actor BAFTA, the award he most wanted was a Best Actor Oscar. Twice nominated for Best Actor and once for Best Short Film, Peter Sellers never won the Oscar he craved.


Sellers was a serial proposer from age of 17, including to at least three women before his first wife. One of whom, when she turned him down, he deliberately impregnated in the hope that she would change her mind. The daughter was later given to an adoption agency and never met Peter Sellers. Although he later tried to look for her, the adoption agency had not kept any records and so she was never traced. In 1963 he even proposed to a woman he never actually met after receiving a picture of a blonde woman in the post.

As well as the women he proposed to he had many affairs and would rent lush apartments for the women he was pursuing, though never invite them to stay with him as that would be an invasion of his privacy. He did have many celebrity girlfriends including Tessa Dahl, novelist Roald Dahl's daughter, Sinead Cusack and model Countess Christina 'Titi' Wachtmeister20.


Sellers could be very generous. When he learned that David Lodge's mother had cancer he immediately cancelled his appointment with Princess Margaret, arranged for Britain's finest doctors to see her at once at his own expense, actions which prolonged her life by 18 months. When Mel Brooks could not get his film Springtime for Hitler, later renamed The Producers, released he began an advertising campaign to get the film out. When he sold Brookfield House to Ringo Starr during the making of The Magic Christian, John Lennon offered over twice as much for it. Sellers sold the house to Ringo because Ringo had asked first. When filming A Day at the Beach in London, based on Roman Polanski's script, the gruesome Manson murders took place in Bel Air, where Polanski had property. Sellers immediately gave money for a $25,000 reward to catch the killers. He also regularly gave his friends expensive gadgets as gifts, often ones he had bought for himself but had tired of instantly when the novelty wore off.

Yet Sellers' generosity could switch off without warning in an instant. Sellers would often insist on taking his friends out for very expensive meals at the finest restaurants, but if the wrong thing was said, he would walk out and leave his guest with the bill.

Relationship with Royals

The Royal Family, including the Queen, Prince Phillip, Prince Charles and the Queen Mother were all very fond of the Goons, and it was quite common for Prince Charles to phone up Sellers impersonating the other characters, especially Bluebottle. Peter Sellers even accompanied the Queen to the theatre on her 39th birthday to see Spike Milligan in Oblomov. One of Sellers; closest friends for much of his life was Princess Margaret and her husband Lord Snowdon, who shared Sellers hobby of photography.

Sellers did cause some offence when he boycotted the Royal World Charity Premiere of The Pink Panther Strikes Again in 1976. Sellers wished to invite his girlfriend, Lynne Frederick, but at royal functions all invites are arranged months in advance and cannot be changed. So Sellers boycotted the world premiere of his own film, to Prince Charles' annoyance, who himself was not allowed to invite Camilla to the premiere either.


Sellers owned over a hundred cars in his life, changing them so often that Spike Milligan called them his 'metal underwear'. These ranged from minis to Rolls Royces. Sellers even considered purchasing an ambulance, believing that this would be the quickest way to drive across London.

1Hercules Grytpype-Thynne's catch-phrase, a character played by Peter Sellers in The Goon Show.2Born Bill Seller, he changed his name to Sellers to sound more theatrical.3Peg Sellers, and later Peter Sellers, believed themselves to be direct descendants of famous Jewish boxer Daniel Mendoza, friend of both King George III and IV. When his book The Art of Boxing was published in 1787 it hit the front page of the headlines, relegating the storming of the Bastille to page 2. Although certainly related to Daniel Mendoza, the theory of direct descent is disputed.4This school was considered an odd choice of school by his extended family as Peter's father was Protestant and his mother Jewish.5He was banned by the BBC from impersonating Winston Churchill.6With the exception of an unknown daughter born in 1948 who was adopted and never traced.7Sellers, when later asked to be in the sequel, Mouse on the Moon declined, but recommended his friend Dick Lester to direct.8An American director famous for directing A Hard Day's Night, Help!, The Three Museketeers, The Four Musketeers, Superman II, Superman III and Return of the Musketeers.9Peter Sellers would later release a single of his Olivier-inspired spoken take of the Beatles' song A Hard Day's Night which reached number 14 in 1965.10Attitudes have since changed, but at the time it was considered perfectly acceptable for a white actor to 'dark up' in make-up to play someone of a different race. Nowadays it may be considered racist, however in The Millionairess, Peter Sellers plays Doctor Kabir sensitively. His brief cameo as an Indian doctor in 1962's The Road to Hong Kong, though, cannot be considered to be other than a stereotype at best, if not racist.11It is unknown whether or not they actually had a physical affair. Most believe probably not.12A successful BBC Radio comedy between 1996-1998 and television series between 1998-2001 which had a new version of the song as its theme tune.13Charlie Chaplin KBE was the world's first world-famous film star, famous for being The Tramp and having a distinct funny walk. He campaigned for film artists' rights, was the founder of United Artists studio. During McCarthy Witch-hunt era Hollywood his left wing views made him suspected of Communism, and he was forced out of the country. He was finally given a Hollywood Walk of Fame star in 1970.14Columbia's most successful film of 1964, it won the 1965 'Best British Film' BAFTA and in 2000 was voted the American Film Institute's 'Third Funniest American Film of All Time'.15Billy Wilder had directed comedy classics Some Like It Hot and One, Two, Three.16Ben Heht, Terry Southern, who had written Dr Strangelove, Wolf Mankowitz, John Law, Woody Allen, Val Guest, Michael Sayers, Joseph Heller, Lorenzo Semple, Billy Wilder and Peter Sellers.17Joe McGrath, Robert Parrish, John Huston, Val Guest, Ken Hughes and Richard Talmadge.18A film based on the novel by Dr Strangelove's writer Terry Southern and co-written by Graham Chapman and John Cleese, unknown writers at the time. Sellers recognised their talent and insisted on hiring them. Scenes deleted from The Magic Christian later were used in Monty Python's Flying Circus.19A phrase often used by his character of Bluebottle in The Goon Show.20There were plans to open a nightclub in London named 'Titi's' after her, but this was refused permission from the Crown Estates Office for some reason...

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