Peter Sellers

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Sellers, Peter (1925–1980)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Peter Sellers characterized his belief in Spiritualism “with respect that falls short of unction, with authority that is not dogmatic; he speaks with care because it is important, but the care does not become caution, for caution is the defence of the weak, the first barricade of the uncommitted.” (Peter Sellers: The Man Behind the Mask, 1969)

Peter Sellers was born on September 8, 1925, in the coastal town of Southsea, England. His parents, Bill Sellers and Peg Welcome, were both in show business. Peter first appeared on stage—albeit he was carried on—within weeks of his birth.

At the outbreak of World War II, Peter Sellers met medium Estelle Roberts’s son Terry in Ilfra-combe, England. They became friends and eventually Sellers asked if he could have a séance with Terry’s mother. Estelle gave a sitting for both Sellers and his first wife Anne. At it, Red Cloud confirmed what Sellers had suspected—that the old British comedian Dan Leno’s spirit was helping to shape Sellers’ career.

On September 15, 1951, Sellers married Australian actress Anne Hayes. They were married for eleven years, while Sellers took his career from music hall comedian to radio actor/comedian, and then to movies. They had two children, Michael and Sarah, but ultimately divorced in April, 1963. For a time, Sellers’ favorite psychic was Maurice Woodruff, who predicted that the next woman he married would have the initials B.E. Sure enough, Sellers met and fell in love with Swedish starlet Britt Ekland, whom he met in the lobby of the Dorchester Hotel, London, where he had gone to live after his divorce. After Sellers survived eight heart attacks, they married and had a daughter, Victoria, who was born in Paris.

Sellers’ mother died in 1967, and he and Ekland separated the following year. For some years Sellers had what Derek Sylvester describes as “regular chats” with his mother by way of various mediums. After his mother’s death, he again went to see Estelle Roberts. Peg related many things known only to herself and Sellers. Sellers continued to visit Estelle Roberts for many years.

In 1969, he married Miranda Quarry, the daughter of Lord Mancroft. By 1974, Miranda sued for divorce. Sellers said, “The real bliss I get out of life now comes directly from the meditation I do. There’s no doubt about that. No woman has been able to give me that sense of inner peace and tranquility.” By this time his life was governed by yoga and astrology. He had been introduced to Oriental discipline by Ravi Shankar, an Indian musician and friend of the Beatles. In 1976, he married his fourth wife, twenty-one-year-old Lynne Frederick, a television actress. That same year, he had another minor heart attack and had a pacemaker installed. He went on to make more movies, and also to almost divorce his fourth wife. Finally, on July 24, 1980, at age fifty-five, Sellers died of a severe coronary at Middlesex Hospital, in London.

Sources:

Evans, Peter: Peter Sellers: The Man Behind the Mask. London: Frewin, 1969
Roberts, Estelle: Fifty Years a Medium. New York: Corgi Books, 1969
Sylvester, Derek: Peter Sellers. London: Proteus, 1981