Blake Edwards, Master of Film Comedy, Dies at 88

Obituaries   Blake Edwards, Master of Film Comedy, Dies at 88
Blake Edwards, a prolific film director who, as the creator of the "Pink Panther" series and movies such as "10" and "Victor/Victoria," made his name as a comedy master, died Dec. 16 in Santa Monica, CA. He was 88.

Blake Edwards in 1974
Blake Edwards in 1974

Mr. Edwards' wide output was varied, including the sentimental Truman Capote adaptation "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and the hard-hitting social drama "Days of Wine and Roses," but it was for his absurd, sometimes daffy touch of an interpreter of modern comedy that he became renowned.

Peter Sellers first starred as the inept, clumsy French police detective Jacques Clouseau in the 1963 "The Pink Panther" and several of its widely popular, though increasingly poorer, sequels. Mr. Edwards wrote the screenplay for many of the films, as he did on a great number of his movies.

The "Pink Panther" series notwithstanding, Mr. Edwards had far more misses than hits in a highly scattershot career. Among the better-received works were "S.O.B.," "Micki and Maude," "Blind Date," "10" and his final success, "Victor/Victoria," a Paris-set sex farce of mistaken identity which starred Mr. Edwards' wife, Julie Andrews, as an out-of-work English actress who poses as a man and wins fame as a female impersonator.

Mr. Edwards and Andrews returned to the material in 1995 when the movie was converted into a Broadway musical. Henry Mancini, who had penned a few memorable tunes for the movie, expanded the score, and the show arrived at the Marquis Theatre amid much ballyhoo, it being Andrews' first return to Broadway in 30 years.

Critics were not overly impressed, however, finding the show bloated and ungainly, and Andrews made headlines when she refused her Tony Award nomination—the sole one earned by the musical. She made a speech from the Marquis stage on May 8, 1996, saying "I have searched my conscience and my heart and find that I cannot accept this nomination, and prefer instead to stand with the egregiously overlooked." The show ran for just under two years. Later on, Blake Edwards presented his play with music, The Big Rosemary, at the Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center in Nyack, NY, in 1999.

Blake Edwards was born July 26, 1922, in Tulsa, OK. His stepfather's father, J. Gordon Edwards, was a silent screen director, and his stepfather, Jack McEdwards, was a stage director and movie production manager. Mr. Edwards started his career as an actor. He first attracted attention as the creator of the popular 1950s TV series "Peter Gunn."

His first marriage, to Patricia Walker, ended in divorce. They had two children together. He married Julie Andrews in 1969. They adopted two children from Vietnam.

He was given an honorary award by the Motion Picture Academy in 2004 for his “extraordinary body of work.”

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