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Director Blake Edwards dies at 88

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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Comments (12)

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Love and deep condolences to Julie .. Blake was a great man who brought so much to the world.

So sad to hear. A marvelous talent who made us laugh and cry. Loved his movies and his use of Henry Mancini's beautiful scores.

My prayers for Julie Andrews and his family.

Very sad; a great loss to quality entertainment. RIP.

A sad farewell to a master of movie making. His movies combined perfect elements of story, characters, cast choices and even music to make masterful movies that were not only enjoyable but a delight to watch. He was so extraordinary he won an award that dwarfs even the Oscar. He managed to win the love and devotion of Julie Andrews. Extremely fitting.

Blake Edwards, my life and I'm certain millions of others were made that much more enjoyable due to your contributions to the mirth and merriment of your films. Thank you.

Respects to his family. He was a man of uncommon talent.

Les Deux Love Orchestra loves and remembers Blake Edwards.

The Pink Panther movies were hilariously funny. Great talent! RIP Mr. Edwards.

They ought to do a "Peter Gunn" marathon in Blake Edwards' honor, as well as every other important production. That show was the epitome of the era.

We keep losing these marvelous, gifted people. Mr. Blake was a rare talent, indeed. I remember, quite fondly, as a young boy being in a movie packed theater in Sherman Oaks watching "The Great Race". I can still hear the howls of laughter, the audience thoroughly enjoying themselves. Then, of course, there were those wonderful "Pink Panther" films. Again, hilarious-- and all done in good taste. Even the R-rated "10", which I saw and totally enjoyed with the rest of America, was so well done. I'm so sorry that today's Hollywood lacks the talent and soul of these great masters-- instead we're relegated to having to sit through an endless parade of tripe and filth and nonsense paraded before us as "high art". Shameful. You were a true showman Blake Edwards and shall be missed. May you Rest In Peace, sir.

My condolences to Julie and family. You have lost a husband and father. Those of us who knew Blake's work in the dark of a movie theatre lost a friend, whose work is remembered, but whose credit's I did not know.
I saw Operation Petticoat as a youth. I enjoyed it although I was to young to understand the sexual humor. I loved Breakfast at Tiffany's, but never understood how Audrey could be a call girl who seemed to never have sex. I loved the theme of Peter Gunn, though the stories have escaped my memory.

One ancedote. I heard the studio liked Breakfast, but had one suggestion. They wanted to cut out the song. Blake new better.

The human body dies. The body of work continues on as long as there is one person seeing one print of the film. See you in Heaven.

Blake Edwards was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in the mid 1980s. He reported having no memory of directing A Fine Mess (1986), a homage to the silent movie comedies of the ’20s.

His, like that of his wife Julie, was/is a sparkling talent. Safe journey Mr. Blake.

My condolences to Julie Andrews and all of Blake Edwards family.


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