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British actor Peter Sellers was incredibly versatile, playing Chief Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther films with as much ease as Clare Quilty in Lolita.
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Making a full recovery, Sellers continued to work in movies. His films of the late 1960s and early 1970s had some decidedly mixed results.
It was his famed character Inspector Closeau who gave Sellers a boost at the box office with 1974’s The Return of the Pink Panther. This latest hit spawned three more Pink Panther movies. His best performance, however, was yet to come.
Sellers earned raves for his subtle, understated turn as the simple gardener Chance in Being There. His character spouts ideas and comments based on his years of television-watching, which are confused by others as words of wisdom. Sellers earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance in the film.
After making this remarkable movie, Sellers’s career seemed to be on an upswing. But he never lived to realize this new wave of potential. He died in London hospital on July 24, 1980, after suffering another heart attack. He was survived by his fourth wife Lynne Frederick, and three children from previous marriages. His son Michael and daughter Sarah came from his first marriage to Anne Howe and daughter Victoria came from his second marriage to actress Britt Ekland. He was also briefly married to Miranda Quarry from 1970 to 1974.
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