34 years ago today we lost an unforgettable comedic genius, Peter Sellers. I didn't always think he was funny or clever. I remember when I was younger I would find my father laughing so hard, you know that deep, hearty sort of laugh, I scratched my head thinking what the heck is this man laughing at? I watched what he was watching, which was The Pink Panther, and I just didn't get it.
Now I know better of course. I also know that British humor is an acquired taste and not all Americans get it. Heck, I know some English folks that don't get it either.
After I met my husband in 2002, he began to reintroduce Sellers into my life. My husband loves British comedy and because of him I have now grown to love it as much as he does. At this point I watch more UK television than American!
I understand British comedy better and I appreciate Sellers so much better. I think watching his films with my husband helped me to enjoy his films more and now Sellers has become our "thing". One of the special things we do together is watch Peter Sellers films or attend exhibits where his work is being displayed.
I also understand now that this man, aside from his own personal faults and demons, had a streak of funny and clever that went into every bone in his body. I feel as though the more films of his I see the more I see how much intellect went into his characters. He continues to blow me away even in his lesser known films such as, The Optimists of Nine Elms (also know as The Optimist). Although this film is not known by many, I still found him being almost other worldly in how he portrayed his character, Sam. Brilliant, truly. Plus he was almost unrecognizable. He blew me away as he always does.
His biggest final role was that of Chauncey Gardiner in the film, Being There (1979). It is a film that still has my head spinning and thinking and wondering. I have to see it a few more times before I can totally get it, if you know what I mean. Its the sort of story I feel like Sellers waited his whole life to tell. Its a simple story really but Chauncey is spellbinding and he leaves you feeling like you need to understand it all but I think the reality is that its okay that you don't.
Sellers spent many years trying to get this film made and he succeeded. It is undoubtedly one of his very best.
He career spanned from radio to television to film and his work will endure the test of time. He made over 65 films and I have only seen 11. I definitely have a ways to go but a film goal of mine is to see all of his works. Luckily my husband joins me in this mad fandom for the great Peter Sellers so we consume anything he is in happily and excitedly so.
We lost a great and important artist 34 years ago today but we are lucky we get to watch his works over and over again thanks to dvds and Netflix!
If you would like to learn more about Peter Seller's work and life here are some fantastic sites: