Inspector Jacques Clouseau is the comically clumsy French detective of the Pink Panther film series. Clouseau fancies himself a suave master of deduction and disguises, but invariably ends up falling off couches, stumbling over potted plants and creating havoc while baffling interviewees with his ridiculous paté-thick accent. The series relied on the deadpan slapstick skills of Peter Sellers, who played Clouseau in six different films. The first, The Pink Panther was officially released in 1964. Other films included: A Shot in the Dark (1964), Inspector Clouseau (1968, with Alan Arkin as Clouseau), The Return of the Pink Panther (1974), The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976), Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978), Trail of the Pink Panther (1982, made after Sellers' death by using old clips), Curse of the Pink Panther (1983, with Roger Moore in a cameo as Clouseau), and Son of the Pink Panther (1993, with Roberto Benigni as Clouseau's equally clumsy son, also named Jacques). A fresh version of The Pink Panther, starring Steve Martin as Clouseau, was released in 2006.
The Pink Panther was the name of a priceless jewel stolen in the first film; the jewel didn’t figure in later films, but the Pink Panther name stuck to the series… The original Clouseau film also inspired the Pink Panther cartoon character… A running gag in the films was Clouseau’s hand-to-hand battles with Cato (Burt Kwouk), his karate-happy manservant… Clouseau’s long-suffering boss, Chief Inspector Dreyfus, was played by Herbert Lom in the early films… The second Clouseau film, A Shot in the Dark, was based on a 1961 Broadway farce of the same name written by Harry Kurnitz (who in turn had adapted his play from L’idiote, by French author Marcel Achard). Kurnitz is sometimes given credit for inspiring the Clouseau phenomenon, though in fact it seems he had no hand in the first Pink Panther film… Jacques Clouseau is, of course, no relation to real-life oceanographer Jacques Cousteau.