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Picks and Pans Review: Mr. Strangelove

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A Biography of Peter Sellers
By Ed Sikov

English comic Spike Milligan once called his pal Peter Sellers the “most complex simpleton in the world.” That description matches the Sellers who emerges from the pages of Sikov’s comprehensive but irritatingly underedited biography: an emotionally stunted, openmouthed blob of neediness.

A comic genius who died in 1980 at age 54, Sellers appeared in more than 60 films, including five Pink Panther movies and 1979’s Being There. The one role he couldn’t pull off was impersonating an adult in real life. Raised a mama’s boy, Sellers as a grown-up threw violent tantrums, ceaselessly chased women (he cheated on at least three of his four wives, including starlet Britt Ekland) and neglected and bullied his three kids. Sikov’s book drones on about it all, in a narrative that too often reads like a regurgitation of his notecards. (Hyperion, $27.95)

Bottom Line: Flat look at a flawed man