Probably following his family in the vaudeville circuit, Sellers learnt this popular yet difficult art and the immediate instinct of the "gag". He was an incredibly versatile artist; he was an excellent dancer, a skillful player of the ukulele and banjo and good enough on drums to tour with several jazz bands. He is known to have performed at the Windmill Theatre.
His success was quite slow in coming. He phoned up a television producer pretending to be Kenneth Horne, who was currently in the show Much Binding in the Marsh, in order to get them on the phone.
Sellers' first film successes were in 1959 in the British Ealing comedies, such as I'm All Right Jack and The Mouse That Roared. Sellers is most famous for his role as the bungling Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther movies, which granted him a large American audience.
He played many other more challenging parts, notably the triple role consisting of the president of the United States, Dr. Strangelove and an officer of the RAF (the first two appearing in the same room throughout the film) in Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, easily varying from brilliant themes as in Hollywood Party, to more intense performances as in Lolita (from Vladimir Nabokov's notorious masterpiece). A late masterpiece for Sellers was the film Being There.
Commonly considered a master actor, sometimes described as an "obsessive perfectionist", Sellers found in Blake Edwards a devoted director who could delicately underline and follow his comic rhythms; Edwards defined Sellers as a "mercurial clown" who could turn comedy into drama, and vice-versa, in an instant.
Other directors Sellers played for include the above mentioned Kubrick, Roman Polanski, Paul Mazursky, and Billy Wilder. He played with many stars, among them Shirley MacLaine, Sophia Loren, Maggie Smith, Goldie Hawn, Shelley Winters, Elke Sommer, Claudine Longet, and even Ringo Starr (The Beatles' drummer). Sellers' early career included radio and television work.
Sellers died of a heart attack on July 24, 1980 in London, England and was cremated. In his will he had explicitly requested that Glenn Miller's song "In The Mood" be played for his funeral; it is considered his last touch of humour, since he deeply hated that tune.
The movie The Trail of the Pink Panther was released posthumously in 1982, containing previously unused footage of Sellers.
UK singles chart - Any Old Iron (1957): Bangers and Mash (1961): A Hard Day's Night (1965) (1993): Goodness Gracious Me (1960) with Sophia Loren. Many of Sellers' comedy records were produced by George Martin.