According to The Hollywood Reporter in December 1978, Sidney Poitier was attached to direct. The first draft of the Sellers-Moloney screenplay was submitted in December 1979. United Artists executive Steven Bach details in his book Final Cut how the project stalled until Sellers' wife, Lynne Frederick came aboard as Executive Producer and Clive Donner signed to direct in April 1980. Sellers and Moloney began work on a rewrite at that time which was completed just days before Sellers' sudden death of heart failure in July 1980. Donner's wife, costume designer Jocelyn Rickards was preparing designs for the film as was veteran series production designer Peter Mullins for the anticipated shoot at Studio de Boulogne in Paris. Pamela Stephenson would have joined Sellers, Herbert Lom, Burt Kwouk, Graham Stark, André Maranne and longtime Sellers friend Max Geldray on the film.
After Sellers' death, the studio attempted to keep the project alive by discussing replacing Sellers with Dudley Moore as Clouseau. Moore, who had been Blake Edwards' choice to play a new character in the series to replace Clouseau, ultimately decided to pass on the part. The studio approached Edwards to come aboard to direct the Sellers-Moloney script. Edwards rejected the idea of using Sellers' script and instead stuck to replacing Clouseau rather than Sellers. The result was 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 police detective Sergeant 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 Blake Edwards', with Sellers uninterested in reprising his most famous role.</p>
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 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 a British 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 and reinstating Dreyfus as Chief Inspector; in the revised draft, however, Clouseau retires from the force, marries Pamela Stephenson's character and joins her in a life of crime (similar to the fate given to Clouseau at the end of 1983's Curse of the Pink Panther).