Ward's Book of Days.

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What happened on this day in history.


On this day in history in 1925, was born Peter Sellers.

Sellers was a comedian and actor who became famous for his part in The Goon Show, and went on to star in a number of Hollywood movies.

Richard Henry Sellers was born on 6th September 1925, at Southsea, Portsmouth, to a family of vaudeville entertainers. He made his first stage appearance at two days old at the local King’s theatre, although the particulars of his performance on that occasion are not recorded. He spent his childhood travelling the vaudeville circuit, and was educated at various dancing academies, and at St Aloysius' Catholic School, despite the fact that his father was a Protestant and his mother Jewish. In 1943, Sellers enlisted in the RAF where his talent for dancing enabled him to become a concert entertainer.  

After demobilisation in 1946, Sellers tried to get a job with the BBC. After several unsuccessful applications, he telephoned a producer, pretending to be Kenneth Horne, a famous television and radio comedian, warmly praising his own abilities. Although the ruse was discovered, Sellers got the job on account of his ability in mimicry. Sellers first appeared in Show Time and later in Crazy People, afterwards called The Goon Show, with Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe and Michael Bentine. This radio series consisted of preposterous plots and surreal humour, intermingled with a background of madcap sound effects. Sellers’ contribution was the portrayal of outrageous characters, including Major Bloodnok, Bluebottle and Henry Crun. The series became a national institution until it was axed in 1960.  

After the cancellation of The Goon Show, Sellers had gained sufficient acting experience to embark on a film career. After appearing in several British pictures, he moved to Hollywood and achieved success with The Mouse That Roared, a fatuous comedy in which he played several parts.  Sellers again took on multiple parts in Dr. Strangelove, a satirical comedy in which he was originally cast as the minor part of Major T J (King) Kong. Sellers’ best known character was Inspector Clouseau, of The Pink Panther and its sequels, whose bumbling incompetence is masterly portrayed with all the professional expertise, which the character lacks.  

Sellers’ stage success contrasts widely with his personal life.  He was described by friends as eccentric and narcissistic, prone to temper, occasional spiteful, but always full of the same humour in his private life as he portrayed on stage. Sellers was married four time and was on the verge of signing his fourth divorce papers, when he collapsed and died of a heart attack on 24th July 1980.  

Sellers’ funeral took place at Golders Green Crematorium. At his request the song In The Mood, a tune that he detested, was played at the committal, as a final humorous touch. [His ashes are placed at plot no 39802. Golders Green Crematorium, Hoop Lane, London, NW11 7NL]

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