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The Romance of the Pink Panther was to be the seventh film in the Pink Panther series, and would have starred Peter Sellers in the role of Inspector Clouseau in his sixth Panther appearance. Herbert Lom would also probably have reprised his role as Charles Dreyfus; with the character now working as a private detective. However, the unexpected death of Peter Sellers in July 1980 stopped this film from ever becoming reality and only two script drafts were completed.

The film, written by Peter Sellers and Jim Moloney, was originally scheduled to have begun filming in September or October 1980, for a Summer release in 1981, but after concerns from the studio over the script, production was delayed until early 1981.

According to The Hollywood Reporter in December 1978, Sellers was negotiating to direct the film himself, but the studio opted for Sidney Poitier instead. Poitier pulled out in 1979 because of delays in Sellers and Moloney delivering the script. The first draft was submitted in December 1979. Clive Donner was attached to direct at this time.

United Artists executive Steven Bach details the studio's poor reception to this draft in his book, Final Cut. The deal nearly fell apart until Sellers' wife, Lynne Frederick, was brought aboard as Executive Producer. Studio executive, Danton Rissner, was set to produce and Sellers and Moloney completed a rewrite just days before Sellers' death in July 1980.

While Bach indicates he was pleased with the rewrite, Donner has stated he was scheduled to meet with Sellers the week after his death to discuss further rewrites. Donner's wife, designer Jocelyn Rickards, was preparing drawings for the film which was set to shoot at Studio de Boulogne in Paris. Pamela Stephenson would have joined Sellers, Herbert Lom, Burt Kwouk, Graham Stark, André Maranne and long-time Sellers friend, Max Geldray, on the film.

After Sellers' death, the studio attempted to keep the franchise alive by bringing in Dudley Moore as Clouseau. Moore, who had been planning a Panther-style spy parody with Blake Edwards called The Ferret, at Orion, was only interested in playing the role one time to give the series the conclusion its star intended.

Moore's condition was that Edwards be brought aboard to direct. Edwards rejected the idea of shooting Sellers' script and instead suggested the series could be revived with a new character. The results of these negotiations were 1982's transitional film, Trail of the Pink Panther, utilizing Sellers' outtakes from 1976's The Pink Panther Strikes Again and 1983's failed relaunch, Curse of the Pink Panther with Ted Wass as incompetent New York detective, Clifton Sleigh.

Romance of the Pink Panther is referenced in the 2004 biopic The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, but the film erroneously depicts the project as belonging to Blake Edwards with Sellers uninterested in reprising his most famous role.

The two drafts

Two drafts were written. One was finished in December 1979 and the other one was finished in July 1980, eight days before Sellers' death. Both drafts have the same basic storyline but are very different, most notably in their endings.

The plot of the film reportedly involved Clouseau falling in love with a daring cat burglar called "The Frog" (to be played by Pamela Stephenson) because of the scattered natures and locations of her crimes. The name was a pun on the British racist slur for the French. Clouseau would have pronounced the name like the 1960s dance, "the froog", with Detective and thief smitten with one another in spite of themselves.

The first draft saw Clouseau promoted to Police Commissioner at the conclusion while in the rewrite, Clouseau retires from the force and joins his lover in a life of crime (similar to the ending of 1983's Curse of the Pink Panther).

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