The Pink Panther Theme

"The Pink Panther Theme" is an instrumental composition by Henry Mancini written as the theme for the 1963 film The Pink Panther and subsequently nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score at the 37th Academy Awards but lost to the Sherman Brothers for Mary Poppins. The eponymous cartoon character created for the film's opening credits by David DePatie and Friz Freleng was animated in time to the tune. The tenor saxophone solo was played by Plas Johnson.

"The Pink Panther Theme"
Song by Henry Mancini
from the album The Pink Panther
LabelRCA Victor
Songwriter(s)Henry Mancini
Producer(s)Joe Reisman


The song was included on the film's soundtrack album and issued as a single (in the United States) in 1964; the single reached the Top 10 on the U.S. Billboard adult contemporary chart and won three Grammy Awards.

Various recordings of the composition appeared in the opening credits of all The Pink Panther films except A Shot in the Dark and Inspector Clouseau. It has also been used in countless works in which the animated Pink Panther appears.

"The Pink Panther Theme", composed in the key of E minor, is unusual for Mancini's extensive use of chromaticism.

In his autobiography Did They Mention the Music? Mancini talked about how he composed the theme music:

I told [the animators] that I would give them a tempo they could animate to, so that any time there were striking motions, someone getting hit, I could score to it.

[The animators] finished the sequence and I looked at it. All the accents in the music were timed to actions on the screen.

I had a specific saxophone player in mind–Plas Johnson. I nearly always precast my players and write for them and around them, and Plas had the sound and the style I wanted.[1]


Other versions

From 1976 to 1991, the theme also served as the think music for Safe Crackers, a pricing game featured on the American game show The Price Is Right.

In the 1978 film Revenge of the Pink Panther, the theme, and much of the soundtrack from this entry in the series, draw heavily from the disco sound of the late 1970s. The theme itself was reworked to include a more dancy bassline, electric piano, and guitar solo. A similar treatment was given to 1983's Curse of the Pink Panther, where it had more synthesized instruments.

The theme was used in John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola's live version of Chick Corea's Short Tales of the Black Forest, from the 1981 album Friday Night in San Francisco.[2]

In the 1993 film Son of the Pink Panther, the theme was rearranged and performed by Bobby McFerrin in the opening titles. This version was unique in being the only one to be performed a cappella. The credits featured the theme in the traditional style, similar to its appearance in Return of the Pink Panther, with an electric keyboard bassline.

The first episode of the Idol Defense Force Hummingbird anime series makes use of a cover version of the theme in a scene where two reporters sneak into the bedroom of protagonists Satsuki and Yayoi Toreishi for a "close-up" scoop.

Actresses Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz and The Pussycat Dolls dance troupe danced to the theme in the film Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.

Christophe Beck rearranged the music for the 2006 reboot, as well as its sequel, The Pink Panther 2. Paul Oakenfold remixed the theme song for the 2006 film.

In 2007, saxophonist Dave Koz recorded a version for his album At the Movies.[3][4]

The theme was featured in the film The Life And Death Of Peter Sellers (2004).


  1. Did They Mention the Music?, Henry Mancini with Gene Lees, Published by Contemporary Books, Inc., 1989, page 141
  2. Greenberg, Donna (2002-11-18). "John McLaughlin, Al DiMeola, Paco DeLucia: Friday Night in San Francisco". Retrieved 2016-09-27.
  3. "At The Movies overview".
  4. "Dave Koz's Secret Symphony Gig".
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