Details About Peter Sellers' Troubled Relationship With His Son Michael

British actor Peter Sellers will forever be known for playing the bumbling Inspector Clouseau in the "Pink Panther" movie franchise. The physical comedy genius of Sellers made him the perfect player for the many films in his large body of work, which includes the classic Stanley Kubrick film "Doctor Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" and the Blake Edwards comedy, "The Party" (per IMDb).

Though he experienced tremendous successes with his acting career, Sellers struggled throughout much of his personal life. Sellers married four times and fathered three children. His official website summarizes what family life might have been like with the star, claiming that his family was forced to "suffer the effects of living with an obsessive perfectionist" whose attentions focused mainly on himself and his career.

Sellers died in 1980 after suffering a massive heart attack (per Britannica). A year later, his son Michael wrote the memoir "P.S. I Love You," the first of two books about his experiences as the late actor's child (per The Sydney Morning Herald). In the book, Sellers' eldest child dishes details of a childhood he felt was traumatic. He alleges that his father, though beloved on the screen, was a "spiteful and neglectful parent," who would ultimately disown him.

Sellers would disinherit Michael and his sister Sarah

Michael Sellers recalled many instances of a father who was not only cold and distant but also engaged in behavior that could be considered emotionally abusive. When Michael was only six, he was awakened by his father in the middle of the night to be asked if he thought that his parents should get a divorce. After the concept of divorce was explained to him, the boy's answer was, "NO" (via The Scotsman). At seven, he was asked by Sellers which parent he most liked and was met by the actor's ire when he said his mother. To make matters worse, when Michael was in his teens, Sellers wrote him a letter telling the boy that he was being disowned and that he should change his last name to his mother's (via The Sydney Morning Herald).

In something that would certainly be emotionally damaging to many children, Sellers had all of his son's toys and other belongings packed up from his home and shipped to where Michael was living with his mother.  Though Michael and Sellers would remain in contact throughout the rest of Sellers' life, their relationship would never fully recover. Michael and his sister Sarah would eventually be disinherited by their father, with the vast majority of his nearly $5 million estate being left to their stepmother Lynne Frederick. Michael and Sarah were left a paltry sum, which Michael would admit he could have used after coming off a failed business venture. 

Michael Sellers talked candidly about his father's odd quirks

In 2002, Michael Sellers sat down for an interview with The Scotsman, ahead of the debut of the documentary, "The Paranormal Peter Sellers." The film explores the late actor's obsession with the occult and his use of mediums and occult rituals to help him guide his professional career (per Letterboxd). His son verifies much of the documentary's findings, giving a unique insight into what made "The Pink Panther" star tick. He stated of his father's beliefs, "I never knew Dad to be anything other than very superstitious. He went to see a clairvoyant when he was very young and was told he would become a household name, fall very ill in middle-age and live to the age of 76. Everything came true apart from the last bit." 

He continued by saying that Sellers would often leave him in the car when visiting various clairvoyants, and at one point became convinced that someone with the initials "B.E." would "change his life." That prompted him to marry Britt Eckland.

During his interview, he seemed to have softened some about his father in the years since he first penned "P.S. I Love You." But he didn't pull any punches, either. He painted the picture of Sellers as being someone who "wasn't very good at playing dad," and was often an angry force in the household. He also hinted that his late father wasn't the best with financial decisions, either, blowing hefty sums of money on frivolous items. Michael Sellers died in 2006 (via IMDb).