Blake Edwards dies at 88

Director of Pink Panther movies

Blake Edwards, the director of Pink Panther and other comedy hits, has died at the age of 88.

His credits also include 10, Breakfast At Tiffany’s and Victor Victoria, the 1982 farce that brought him his only Oscar nomination, for his screenplay adaptation.

He died from complications of pneumonia late yesterday in Santa Monica, California, according to his publicist. Blake's wife, Julie Andrews, and other family members were at his side. He had been in hospital for about two weeks.

His publicist of 40 years Gene Schwam said: ‘His heart was as big as his talent’. He added that Edwards had knee problems, and had been dependent upon a wheelchair for the past couple of years.

Edwards was born in Tulsa in 1922 and started off as an actor, before moving into scriptwriting, then directing in the mid-Fifties. Breakfast At Tiffany's, in 1961, put him on the map, but it was his long association with Peter Sellers, for which he was best known.

Sellers stared in seven Pink Panther films for Edwards (including the one made after his death using outtakes, The Trail of the Pink Panther) and 1968’s The Party, which Edwards also wrote.

But Edwards came to dislike his star, saying: ‘[He] became a monster. He just got bored with the part and became angry, sullen and unprofessional’ and ‘Maybe he would not excuse me for the fact that I made him famous, more than he was.’

Although in later years, he was more circumspect, acknowledging that although ‘a pain in the ass’, Sellers had his charm. ‘What can you say about a guy who had nightly conversations with his dead mother?’ Edwards said.

Despite the successes, Edwards’s track record was patchy, with badly-received films including the Ellen Barkin farce Switch and Ted Danson in A Fine Mess.

He is survived by Andrews, who he married in 1969, and four children – two from his first marriage to Patricia Walker, and two adopted with Andrews.

Published: 16 Dec 2010

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