Blake Edwards

The Pink Panther

QUESTION:  How many Pink Panther films did Peter Sellers star in during his lifetime?
A)  2
B)  5
C)  7
D)  None.

Anyone who has been through the American Treasure Tour knows how crazy it is - model airplanes everywhere, movie posters, dolls, circus art.  Too much to get into here.  And then there are the stuffed animals. Some of our visitors LOVE the stuffed animals, others are a little surprised by them. Regardless, they do trigger memories for guests of all ages. We recently had an evening event in the tour for which we provided a scavenger hunt. One of the best-celebrated searches was for the Pink Panther. No, not the extremely rare diamond that became the inspiration for two film franchises, but the animated character that was developed to open and close the credits for the film franchise. You know him - he's pink, doesn't talk much, and tends to get himself into endless amounts of trouble.

The first appearance of the Pink Panther (the cartoon character) was in the opening credits of the 1963 debut film The Pink Panther, starring David Niven as the cultured and debonair Phantom, a notorious jewel thief on the prowl for the famous Pink Panther diamond.  It is called that because of a flaw in the diamond which supposedly appears to be a leaping panther. The comedy was created by Blake Edwards, a highly popular writer/director behind dozens of films between 1948 and 1993. Originally intended as a vehicle for Niven, Peter Sellers stole every scene he was in as the fumbling Inspector Clouseau.  The Clouseau character translated to the cartoon series well, and is easily recognizable because of his yellow trench coat and big moustache. The cartoon series, originally called The Pink Panther Show but going under numerous name changes during its decade on NBC starting in 1969, then ABC for another season afterwards. One distinction the cartoons had when first introduced was that a laugh track was included, the first anyone considered doing that for an animated series. 

ANSWER:  B)  5.  His reign as Inspector Clouseau, the bumbling detective, stretched from 1963 through 1978.  Two years after his death in 1980, creator/co-writer/director Blake Edwards made Trail of the Pink Panther, intended as an homage to Sellers.  Deemed in poor taste, it was a critical and financial failure.