Where would movies like A Shot in the Dark and The Millionairess been without the some of the beautiful, charming leading ladies of the 60s and 70s? These spunky, outspoken personalities helped make Peter Sellers the incidental lady’s man who captured the world.
The Pink Panther
In the first Pink Panther movie, released in 1963, Peter Sellers stars opposite the beautiful, French model/actress Capucine, who playsClouseau’s wife, Simone. Immediately, the film raises suspicions as to her intentions, which we discover are less than honorable. She pulls off a smooth con artist who is obviously bored with the gullible inspector. Still, it’s refreshing to see Clouseau trying his hand at romance, although the outcome is clear. Simone’s heart is trapped in a complicated triangle with George Lytton, played by Robert Wagner and David Niven’s character, Sir Charles Litton. As the movie concludes, we find the crafty Simone, along with her co-conspirators, has already sealed Clouseau’sfate. Despite a surprising turn of events, we’re left with a bittersweet ending and wondering if we’ll see Simone in any of the follow-ups.
A Shot in the Dark
German born actress, Elk Sommer, epitomizes the “damsel in distress” as Maria Gambrelli, who becomes the primary suspect in the murder of her lover. She manages to charm her way into Inspector Clouseau’s heart, and persuades him to advocate on her behalf. He is convinced the lovely maid is covering for the true killer and sets out to prove her innocence. In one hilarious scene, the inspector retrieves her from a nudist camp, and as the two drive away deprived of their garments, they attract a crowd of spectators. Afterwards, rumors of an affair circulate rumors that are manifested over the next few scenes. A Shot in the Dark finishes with a free Misses Gambrelli falling into Clouseau’s embrace.
The Return of the Pink Panther
Lady Claudine Litton
Lady Claudine Litton, played by Catherine Schell, befriends Clouseau through a series of coincidental events. In the movie, she is the wife of wealthy and notorious “Phantom Thief”, Sir Charles Litton, who hopes her husband will abandon his criminal past. We first meet her at home when Clouseau goes undercover “as communications expert and chief troubleshooter for De Nice Telephone Company.” Right away, she is depicted as shrewd and capable, but she also possesses us with her smile. Obviously, she suspects the inspector from the moment she lays eyes on him, but seems amused by his lack of finesse.
Revenge of the Pink Panther
The former mistress of fictional villain, Al Marchione, becomes Inspector Clouseau’s partner in Mayhem, joining him on a quest to track down the culprit responsible for the attempt on his life. Simone is played by Dyan Cannon, who captures the heart of Clouseau and goes on to become one of the most memorable of Peter Seller’s supporting cast. She even takes on a disguise when she goes deep cover in Hong Kong alongside the inspector. You have to appreciate any woman who can manage Clouseau’s interesting charisma.
EpifaniaParerga, portrayed by Sophie Loren, becomes the love interest of the reluctant Dr. Kabir in this famous Peter Sellers’ romantic comedy. Parergais a confident and charismatic, but also somewhat misguided in her ideas about love. However, she convinces the doctor to engage in a battle of wit. In an attempt to find love, she tackles a new role as a humble laborer where she, in her own words, is trying to prove her own worth. While she explores her new environment and learns to truly love, keeps us laughing throughout. It’s hard not to find her bold, sensational, and occasionally irrational behavior at least moderately irresistible.
If you weren’t careful, you might have missed these characters in their modest roles alongside legendary actor, Peter Sellers. However, chances are you’ve caught a glimpse of some of them in one of the many major and reoccurring roles that came as they stepped in spotlights of their own. A few, like Julia Andrews, who contributed to the Pink Panther series, were famous long before sharing the screen with Sellers. This list takes a look in to some of the well-known actors who made brief appearances in at least one of Sellers’ catalog of comedic wonders.
You may remember Leonard Rossiter’s brief role as British Superintendent Quinlan in The Pink Panther Strikes Again. He landed his first role in a major film in 1962 in which he appeared next to Alan Bates and June Ritchie in A Kind of Loving. By the time he found his way into The Pink Panther Strikes Again, which was released in 1976, he had already been active in show business. He went on to star in dozens movies and shows, including 2001: A Space Odyssey and Rising Damp, which aired from 1974 to 1978. The actor’s career was cut short in 1984, when he died if hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in 1984, but not before he had dedicated more than 22 years to entertaining
Perhaps one of the most recognizable and beloved actors of all time, Julie Andrews is best known for her roles in The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins. More recently, she performed the voices of Queen Lilian in Shrek the Third and played a one of the leading characters in The Princess Diaries 2. In addition to her acting, she is famous for her distinguishing vocal ability, which she lent to the 1976 production of The Pink Panther Strikes again. Andrews is credited for the singing voice of Ainsley Jarvis, who delivers an oddly provocative performance for Peter Sellars in a night club.
The well-known actor played a small, but unforgettable role, in The Lucky Christian, as a vampire who stirs up a little trouble on the ship where Peter Sellers and othersare lodged. In what may be his most memorable scene in the film, Lee gets up-close and personal with Sellars during a scene in which he disguises himself as an ordinary waiter. Christopher Lee goes on to become a legend in his own right, scoring major roles in the epic Lord of the Rings and Star Wars collections. The actors lush career ended with his death in 2015, but he may be one of the most influential characters who held a minor role alongside Peter Sellers.
Many recognize John Bluthal as the older fellow who appears near the beginning of The 5th Element, but by that time, his acting career was already decades in the making. Around 1975, he the part of “the fat man” in The Return of the Pink Panther.
Something of a legend in his own right, John Cleese plays a black-haired “director in Setheby’s,” opposite the unapologetically comedic Peter Sellers. In the scene, Cleese takes one of his more serious characters, portraying an employee who becomes utterly appalled after watching Sellers’ character destroy a valuable painting. After an illustrious career and a long list of comedic masterpieces under his belt, most are familiar with at least some of his work. However, the earlier roles on which actors have built their legacy are often forgotten by some.