Film and television giant Blake Edwards passed away Thursday morning in Santa Monica. According to a statement from Edwards’ publicist, Gene Schwam, the 88-year-old legendary writer-director behind such works as Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Pink Panther series, and Victor/Victoria died as a result of lingering complications from pneumonia.
Edwards passed away with wife Julie Andrews (The Sound of Music, Tooth Fairy) and his children near his bedside.
Blake Edwards, a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, relocated in infancy with his family to Los Angeles, where he would eventually graduate from Beverly Hills High before serving in the Coast Guard during World War II. After the war, Edwards briefly worked as an actor before concentrating on writing and directing films and television projects almost exclusively for the remainder of his career.
While best remembered for his visual slapstick productions with Peter Sellers as the bumbling French detective Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther series, today Edwards is considered to have been significantly underrated for his versatility. Many of his films – including Days of Wine and Roses, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Experiment in Terror – are routinely given as examples of Edwards’ impressive body of work across a variety of film genres.
Although most of Edwards’ most notable achievements would come in the motion picture industry, his contributions to the television medium are also deserving of recognition. According to Richard Natale from Variety:
It was the hugely successful and influential TV series “Peter Gunn,” with its jazzy Henry Mancini score that established Edwards and led to such major comedy film successes as “The Perfect Furlough” and “Operation Petticoat.” Another TV series “Mr. Lucky,” was also a success, while “Dante’s Inferno” was less so.
Edwards would receive his first and only Academy Award nomination in 1982 for his Victor/Victoria screenplay, which was adapted from the 1933 German film written and directed by Reinhold Schünzel. In 2004, however, Edwards was presented with an honorary Oscar by the Motion Picture Academy in celebration of Edwards’ “extraordinary body of work” spanning four decades.
Blake Edwards is survived by five children: Jennifer and Geoffrey from his first marriage to Patricia Walker; Emma from Julie Andrews’ first marriage; and Amelia Leigh and Joanna Lynne, both adopted from Vietnam by he and Andrews in the 1970s.
Screen Rant would like to extended our condolences to the family and friends of Blake Edwards in their time of grieving.
R.I.P. Blake Edwards: July 26, 1922 – December 16, 2010