Pink Panther (character)

Pink Panther (character)

Infobox character
colour = pink
name = The Pink Panther


caption = The Pink Panther cartoon character
portrayer = Rich Little (in "Sink Pink" and "Pink Ice")
gender = Male
age =
born =
death =
occupation = Feline
spouse =
children =
family =
relatives =

"The Pink Panther" cartoon character is the main character in a series of animated short films. The character originally appeared in the opening and closing credit sequences of the 1963 live-action feature film "The Pink Panther". The popularity of the character spawned a series of animated short films, and the character would appear in the opening sequence of every film in "The Pink Panther" series (except "A Shot in the Dark" and "Inspector Clouseau"). The cool cat starred in 126 shorts (either theatrical or made-for-television), 10 television shows and 3 prime-time television specials.

As of September 2007, the cartoons can be viewed on Boomerang, Voom HD Networks' Animania HD, Teletoon Retro and the full collection has been made available on DVD. In India, the cartoons were shown on Pogo from February 2006 onwards.

DePatie-Freleng/United Artists cartoons

The animated Pink Panther character's initial appearance in the live action film's title sequence, directed by Friz Freleng, was such a success with audiences and United Artists that the studio signed Freleng and his DePatie-Freleng Enterprises studio to a multi-year contract for a series of "Pink Panther" theatrical cartoon shorts.

The first entry in the series, 1964's "The Pink Phink", featured the Panther harassing his foil, a little white moustached man who somewhat resembles the animated version of the feature films' Inspector Clouseau (this character is officially known as "The Man" [cite web |url=http://www.ottawaxpress.ca/film/film.aspx?iIDArticle=7173 |title="Struttin' with the Pink Panther" - Interview with Jerry Beck, by T.S. Warren|work=Ottawa XPress] ), by constantly trying to paint the little man's blue house pink. "The Pink Phink" won the 1964 Academy Award for Animated Short Film, and subsequent shorts in the series, usually featuring the Panther opposite the little man, were successful releases.

In an early series of Pink Panther animated cartoons, the Pink Panther generally remained silent, speaking only in two theatrical shorts, "Sink Pink" and "Pink Ice". Rich Little provided the Panther's voice in the latter shorts, modelling it on that of David Niven (who had portrayed Clouseau's jewel-thief nemesis in the original live-action film). Years later Little would overdub Niven's voice for "Trail of the Pink Panther" and "Curse of the Pink Panther".

All of the animated "Pink Panther" shorts utilized the distinctive jazzy theme music composed by Henry Mancini for the 1963 feature film, with additional scores composed by Walter Greene.

By the late 1960s, the "Pink Panther" cartoons were being shown Saturday mornings on NBC. "Pink Panther" shorts made after 1969 were produced for both broadcast and film release, typically appearing on television first, and released to theatres by United Artists. A number of sister series joined "The Pink Panther" on movies screens and on the airwaves, among them "The Ant and the Aardvark", "The Tijuana Toads" (a.k.a. "The Texas Toads"), "Hoot Kloot", and "Misterjaw" (a.k.a. "Mr. Jaws and Catfish"). There were also a series of animated shorts called "The Inspector", with the bumbling Clouseau inspired Inspector and his Spanish-speaking sidekick Sgt. Deux-Deux, whom the Inspector is forever correcting. ("Deux" is French for "two", meaning the little man's name is both a pun and a play on words, "two" appearing two times in the name.) Other DePatie-Freleng series included "Roland and Rattfink", "The Dogfather" (a "Godfather" pastiche), with a canine Corleone family and two "Tijuana Toads" spinoffs, "The Blue Racer" and "Crazylegs Crane".

In 1976, the half-hour series was revamped into a 90-minute format, as "The Pink Panther Laugh and a Half Hour and a Half Show"; this version included a live-action segment, where the show's host, comedian Lenny Schultz, would read letters and jokes from viewers. This version flopped, and would change back to the original half-hour version in 1977.

In 1978, after nine years on NBC, "The Pink Panther" moved to ABC, where it lasted one season before leaving the network realm entirely. The ABC version of the series featured sixteen episodes with 32 new Pink Panther cartoons, and 16 of Crazylegs Crane. The 32 new Pink Panther cartoons were eventually released to theatres by United Artists.

DFE films as the last studio to produce new theatrical cartoons, finally ending production on "The Pink Panther" and the other series in 1980. That year, United Artists Television syndicated a half-hour, repackaged version of the series, complete with original theatrical intros, outros and NBC-produced commercial bumpers, to local stations. Due to contractual obligations, many stations showed the series in the evening, as opposed to mornings or afternoons. The individual cartoons were syndicated to local stations beginning in the fall of 1982, with the NBC-added canned laughter removed from the soundtracks.

A single cartoon preceded the main feature in older James Bond VHS releases. In late 2004 in the UK and later in February 2006 in the US, all of the Pink Panther cartoons were released on DVD from MGM Home Entertainment.

Richard Williams' studio animated the character in the credit sequences of two of the theatrical "Panther" features, "Return of the Pink Panther" (1975) and "The Pink Panther Strikes Again" (1976). All the other films in the series feature animation by DePatie-Freleng.

Later television shows and specials

After ending the Pink Panther's theatrical run, DePatie-Freleng produced a series of three prime time Pink Panther television specials for ABC. The first of the specials was 1978's "A Pink Christmas", which premiered on ABC during the Panther's theatrical run for movie theaters. It featured the Panther in New York being cold and hungry looking for a juicy holiday dinner. Two other primetime specials premiered after the theatrical shorts ended in theaters, 1980's "Olympinks" and 1981's "Pink At First Sight" (under Marvel Productions). In November of late 2007, the three specials were released on a single disc DVD collection titled, "The Pink Panther: A Pink Christmas" from MGM Home Entertainment/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The studio was sold to Marvel Comics in 1981, and became Marvel Productions. In 1984, the Pink Panther was licensed to Hanna-Barbera Productions, who produced the short-lived Saturday morning series "The Pink Panther and Sons", in which the still-silent Pink Panther was given two talking sons, Pinky and Panky.

Yet another new series of cartoons, called "The Pink Panther", produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Animation, appeared in 1993, and had the Pink Panther speaking with the voice of Matt Frewer (of "Max Headroom" fame). Unlike the classic animated shorts, not all episode titles contained the word "pink", although many instead contained the word "panther".

In July 2007, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. and Jordan's Rubicon animation company began co-production of the new cartoon "Pink Panther and Pals" portraying a young panther and his friends. The 26-episode TV series is slated to premiere in the United States in 2009 on the Cartoon Network.

Comics and advertising

* A long-running "Pink Panther" comic book title was published by Gold Key Comics (and its Whitman imprint) beginning in April 1971; this series ended in 1984 after 87 issues. Harvey Comics also published a 9-issue "Pink Panther" series (and a "Pink Panther Super Special") from 1993 to 1994.

* In 1973 a breakfast cereal called "Pink Panther Flakes" was made by Post Cereal. The cereal resembled Frosted Flakes in taste and texture but the sugar coating was pink, which would color your milk after a few seconds. The jingle included Mancini's theme and went something like this: "Pink Panther Flakes, are pink, and sweet as you Pink Panther, color of pink, tickle me pink." The front of the box featured the Pink Panther character and included a toy prize inside.

*In Spain, a "Pantera Rosa" cake is sold. It is coated in pink. [http://www.bimbo.es/producto.cfm?id=71&menu=4,6 Official page] of the Pantera Rosa cake at the site of Bimbo, its maker.] [http://www.viruete.com/articulos/2004/Pantera%20Rosa.htm Nostalgic weblog post] in a Spanish-language weblog. It includes pictures.]

*Through out the greater part of the 1980's, you could find and buy 'Pink Panther-Pink Lemonade mix' in most grocery stores.

* The Pink Panther character has been a mascot for Owens Corning's line of 'pink fiberglass-thermal insulation,' Basement Finishings and Sunsuites; and has appeared in TV commercials and newspaper ads for the company since 1980.

* In 2005, a new "Pink Panther" Sunday strip, also featuring the Inspector Clouseau character, began world-wide syndication through Tribune Media Services. The strip is written and drawn by Eric and Bill Teitelbaum.

* Since 2001, the Pink Panther has also been a mascot for Sweet'N Low artificial sweetener. As with Owens Corning, the association comes from the pink color of Sweet'N Low packets.

* In August 2007, the Virginia State Lottery introduced a Pink Panther scratchcard game with a $12,000 top prize.

Video games

The Super Nintendo/Sega Genesis game "Pink Panther Goes to Hollywood" was developed by Altron and released by HeadGames Publishing in 1993, where the Pink Panther was being pursued by Inspector Clouseau through the MGM studios, and finds himself in various movie parodies, including "Honey, I Shrunk the Pink", "Cat on a Hot Pink Roof" and "Pinkenstein" (oddly enough, few of the parodies are of MGM movies). The game did poorly with critics and sold badly, and is now mostly forgotten.

The cartoon character was used in a PlayStation game "Pinkadelic Pursuit" published by French company Cryo Interactive in 2002, as well as a Game Boy Advance version developed by Wanadoo FTG in 2003, which were both barely marketed and quickly forgotten. Sony published a Pink Panther game for Mobile Phones in 2004. He was the central character in the storyline of the point-and-click cartoon PC games "Pink Panther's Passport to Peril" and "Pink Panther in Hokus Pokus Pink" Published by Wanderlust Interactive in 1996. [http://www.compedia-usa.com Compedia] developed PC CD-Rom games for kids, which were released in Fall 2007.

Cultural references

The Pink Panther has had many cultural references, some of which are shown here.
*Ramón Valdés played a bumbling thief nicknamed Peterete, who walked to the Pink Panther theme in a few Chespirito shorts. Random characters played by him in El Chapulin Colorado were often mentioned to bear a resemblance with the cartoon during the episodes. There have also been a few mentioned references in El Chavo Del Ocho.

*A short cartoon featured in the animated series Dexter's Laboratory, entitled "A Silent Cartoon", pays homage to the "Pink Panther" shorts (specifically the episode The Pink Phink) by emulating their visual style, music, and humor. The short features Dexter (filling the role of the pale man, and coloured pure white) trying to construct a blue laboratory, while an all-pink version of his sister Dee Dee (filling the role of the Pink Panther, complete with his mannerisms) finds clever ways to turn the blue lab into a completely pink lab.

*In the first episode of the British comedy series "Mr. Bean" starring Rowan Atkinson, while preparing for an exam, Mr. Bean takes from his bag several pencils and toys, including a rubber Pink Panther figurine. This gag was possibly because Mr. Bean and The Pink Panther are both silent comedy stars.

*The video for Japanese singer Namie Amuro's song "WoWa" featured new sequences with the Pink Panther character, also a female pink panther was created as a symbol for the singer.

*LPGA golfer Paula Creamer has adopted the nickname "The Pink Panther" due to her penchant for pink clothes and accessories.

*In an episode of the FOX series "Family Guy", The Pink Panther dies from inhaling Owens Corning pink fiberglass insulation. The character had been used as the brand's mascot since 1980.

Critical notes

The Pink Panther is a notable contribution to the animation art form. Produced after theatrical cartooning's golden age of the 1940s and 50s, it was constrained to the limited animation techniques applied to Saturday morning cartoons of 1960s and after. Within these limitations, the Pink Panther made creative use of absurd and surreal themes and visual puns and an almost completely wordless pantomime style, set to the ubiquitous Pink Panther theme and its variations by Henry Mancini. The overall approach is reminiscent of the classic silent movies of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton.

Cultural references were more muted and stylized, resulting in a cartoon with longer-term, more cross-cultural appeal not shared by contemporaries such as "Yogi Bear" and "The Flintstones", with their greater reliance on contemporary American pop culture.

The Pink Panther also remained constrained to the classic six-minute form of theatrical shorts, while contemporaries expanded into longer, sitcom-like storylines, up to a full 30 minutes of broadcast TV in the case of "The Flintstones".

Freleng's colleagues credit his sense of creative timing as a key element to the cartoon's artistic success. Freleng himself regarded the Pink Panther as his finest achievement and the character he most identified with, according to family and colleagues interviewed on the 2006 DVD release.

In Germany they call the first seasons (from 1973) "Der rosarote Panther – zu Gast bei Paulchens Trickverwandten". So the Pink Panther's name is Die Paulchen Panther.("Paulchen" means "little Paul", because the endings -chen and -lein are diminutives.)The German version also includes a voice-over that explains, in rhyme, what is happening on-screen.

Co-stars and friends of the Pink Panther

:"See also List of The Pink Panther cartoons".
*The Inspector (Theatrical, 1965-1969)
*Roland and Rattfink (Theatrical, 1968-1971)
*The Ant and the Aardvark (Theatrical, 1969-1971)
*Tijuana Toads (Theatrical, 1969-1972)
*The Blue Racer (Theatrical, 1972-1974)
*Hoot Kloot (Theatrical, 1973-1974)
*The Dogfather (Theatrical, 1974-1976)
*Misterjaw (Television, 1976)
*Crazylegs Crane (Television, 1978)

Television appearances

List of animated shows

* "The Pink Panther Show" (NBC, 1969-1980 and various spinoffs)
* "Pink Panther and Sons" (1984-1985)
* "The Pink Panther" (Syndication, 1993-1995)
* "Pink Panther and Pals" (starting in 2009)

List of animated specials

* "" (1978)
* "" (1980)
* "" (1981, Valentine's Day special)

References

External links

*
* [http://bcdb.com/cartoons/MGM/Television/The_Pink_Panther/index.html Big Cartoon Data Base]
* [http://home.inreach.com/flitedoc/index.htm Pink Panther Fan Home Page]
* [http://www.high-tech.com/panther Pink Panther Shrine]


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