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12/16/2010

Director Blake Edwards dies at 88

December 16, 2010 | 10:01 am

BlakeBlake Edwards, the veteran writer-director whose films include the "Pink Panther" comedies, "Breakfast at Tiffany's," "Days of Wine and Roses" and "10" and whose legendary disputes with studio chiefs inspired his scathing Hollywood satire "S.O.B." has died. He was 88.

Edwards, whose collaborations with his wife, Julie Andrews, included the 1982 comedy "Victor/Victoria," died of of complications of pneumonia Wednesday evening at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, said Gene Schwam, Edwards’ longtime publicist. Andrews and members of their immediate family were at his bedside.

Edwards scored his first box-office hit with "Operation Petticoat," a 1959 comedy about a World War II submarine crew starring Cary Grant and Tony Curtis. But a turning point in Edwards' film career came in 1961 with "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

The light, sophisticated romantic comedy based on the Truman Capote novella earned Audrey Hepburn an Academy Award nomination for best actress. Composer Henry Mancini also won an Oscar for his score, and he and Johnny Mercer won Oscars for their memorable song "Moon River."

Displaying his versatility, Edwards followed up that success with the 1962 thriller "Experiment in Terror" and, that same year, "Days of Wine and Roses," a grim drama about a young couple (Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick) battling alcoholism. Both Lemmon and Remick received Academy Award nominations, and Mancini and Mercer won Oscars for their title song.

But it's Edwards' comedies for which he is best known.

As co-writer and director of "The Pink Panther" and "A Shot in the Dark" (both released in 1964), starring Peter Sellers as the bumbling French police inspector Clouseau, Edwards earned a reputation as a modern master of slapstick comedy and sight gags.

Other Edwards-directed comedies in the '60s included "The Great Race," "What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?" and "The Party."

A more complete obituary is here.

-- Dennis McLellan

Photo: Blake Edwards and Julie Andrews in September. Credit: Valerie Macon / Getty Images

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