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Sellers and seduction: From humour to heartache

Being able to make women laugh is an irresistible attraction, if Peter Sellers is anything to go by. Take his second wife, Britt Ekland, whom he married in 1964 – just 10 days after the pair first met…

Britt Ekland

It’s said that a few weeks into the marriage, Sellers took sexual stimulants to help him achieve “the ultimate orgasm” with his beautiful new wife – and suffered eight heart attacks in three hours as a result. Their marriage lasted only four years.

The search for his ideal woman was a significant part of Sellers’ life. “I need the help of a woman,” he said. “I’m continually searching for this woman: they mother you, they’re great in bed, they’re like a sister, they’re there when you want to see them, they’re not there when you don’t.” Perhaps this unrealistic optimism was a root cause of his many failed marriages – four in total, though his treatment of his various wives was notoriously harsh.

Sophia Loren

During his first marriage, for example, before he met Britt Ekland, Sellers fell heavily for Sophia Loren, his co-star in ‘The Millionairess’. Indeed, he only agreed to act in the film after learning of Loren’s involvement and he later declared his love for the actress – in front of his own wife. While Loren never became his wife, he later admitted (and regretted) an extreme infatuation for her.

Ursula Andress

And then there were the on-screen relationships – such as with the stunning seductress Ursula Andress in the 1967 spoof version of ‘Casino Royale’. This time, it wasn’t Peter Sellers’ relationship with a woman that failed – it was the film itself that flopped.

Miranda Quarry

Wife number three, whom he married less than two years after his divorce from Britt Ekland, was the 23-year-old model Miranda Quarry. Even before their wedding in August 1970, Sellers was expressing private doubts about the wisdom of marrying again - doubts that were sadly proved right when, in early 1973, he became engaged to Liza Minnelli. This was despite the fact that he was still married, and Minnelli was engaged to someone else. 

Liza Minnelli

Even by Peter Sellers' standards, his relationship with Liza Minnelli was a short-lived thing. His engagement to the troubled star, who battled her own drug addiction demons, lasted less than a month. It's said by some that he ended the affair when she jokingly pulled off his toupée... but whatever the truth, Minnelli was yet another in the long list of beautiful women who first intrigued him, and then fell by the wayside.

A comic genius on film, it’s painfully clear that Peter Sellers’ own life wasn’t so humorous. His love affairs repeatedly ended in disaster, while he constantly strove to tackle depression, alcoholism and drugs. He finally died of a heart attack in 1980, at the age of just 54. 

Photos: Getty Images