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What is the Pink Panther?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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In the first sense, the Pink Panther is a fictional diamond with a distinctive flaw which resembles a leaping panther; the diamond was a major plot device in a series of films which are collectively known as the "Pink Panther" movies. In addition, it is an animated character who appeared in the title sequences for these films. He became so popular that a series of animated shorts starring him were commissioned.

The "Pink Panther" films were a series of silly detective films starring Peter Sellers as the French policeman Jacques Clouseau. The films poked fun at the popular police and spy movie genres, with Clouseau being portrayed as a bumbling, idiotic character who somehow managed to get his man every time. The films were characterized by outrageous pratfalls and an assortment of memorable characters, including Clouseau's personal servant, Cato, and a parade of attractive leading ladies.

The plot of the first film, The Pink Panther (1963), centered around a fabulous pink diamond known for its distinctive panther-shaped occlusion. The diamond also appeared in The Return of the Pink Panther (1975). In a reference to the diamond, an animated character was created for the titles, and became a recurring character in the titles and credits of the future films. The Pink Panther often chases an animated version of Clouseau through the titles, devises complicated explosives, or pretends to be a policeman during the opening sequence.

Many film fans are familiar with the distinctive musical theme of the movies, which was composed by Henry Mancini. All films in the canon were also directed by Blake Edwards. Later films capitalized on the popularity of the franchise with an assortment of actors, in the hopes of wooing a new generation of fans for the series. The animated shorts continue to run on television, and they are also available in a complete boxed set, for fans who have a burning desire to collect them all.

For those who are curious, Peter Sellers starred in five of the films: The Pink Panther, A Shot in the Dark (1964), The Return of the Pink Panther, The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976), and Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978). Blake Edwards went on to direct three more films with other actors: Trail of the Pink Panther (1982), Curse of the Pink Panther (1983), and Son of the Pink Panther (1993). In 2006, a new film with an entirely new cast and crew was released, starring Steve Martin as Inspector Clouseau.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Musical Expert researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments
By anon188956 — On Jun 21, 2011

Actually, the Pink Panther is a real diamond of almost 25 carats, which is set to go on sale next month for over $24 M lbs. Jeweler, Harry Winston, discovered the gem and its been held in a private collection for about 60 years.

Interested in learning more about the "real" Pink Panther; the one without the pink fur and demure attitude, you can look online.

By sherlock87 — On Jan 17, 2011

In the new Pink Panther, Steve Martin's portrayal of Clouseau really divided people because they did not see him as someone deserving of filling Peter Sellers' role. I'm not really familiar with the Pink Panther movies, but I think that Steve Martin is as close as probably anyone in this era of being the kind of comedian that Sellers was.

By widget2010 — On Jan 14, 2011

I have only seen the pink panther cartoons that were centered around the panther character, and so I had no idea that the original pink panther was actually a diamond. I have several friends that keep telling me I need to see the old movies because Peter Sellers is so talented; now I feel a little more intrigued, so maybe I will.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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