LOS ANGELES -- Blake Edwards, the director and writer known for clever dialogue, poignance and occasional belly-laugh sight gags in "Breakfast at Tiffany's," "10" and the "Pink Panther" farces, is dead at age 88.
Edwards died from complications of pneumonia late Wednesday at
St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, said publicist Gene
He had been hospitalized for about two weeks.
Edwards had knee problems, had undergone unsuccessful procedures
and was "pretty much confined to a wheelchair for the last
year-and-a-half or two," Schwam said. That may have contributed to
his condition, he added.
At the time of his death, Edwards was working on two Broadway
musicals, one based on the "Pink Panther" movies. The other,
"Big Rosemary," was to be an original comedy set during
Prohibition, Schwam said.
"His heart was as big as his talent. He was an Academy Award
winner in all respects," said Schwam, who knew him for 40 years.
A third-generation filmmaker, Edwards was praised for evoking
classic performances from Jack Lemmon, Audrey Hepburn, Peter
Sellers, Dudley Moore, Lee Remick and Andrews, his wife of 42
Actor Robert Wagner credits Edwards with giving him some of the
greatest opportunities of his career.
"There won't be anybody passing by like him again. He was a
genius," Wagner said Thursday. "Personally, we were so very close
friends and he was so kind to me throughout my entire life."
Edwards directed and often wrote a wide variety of movies
including "Days of Wine and Roses," a harrowing story of
alcoholism; "The Great Race," a comedy-adventure that starred
Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood; and "Victor/Victoria," his
gender-bender musical comedy with Andrews.
He was also known for an independent spirit that brought clashes
with studio bosses. He vented his disdain for the Hollywood system
in his 1981 black comedy, "S.O.B."
"I was certainly getting back at some of the producers of my
life," he once remarked, "although I was a good deal less
scathing than I could have been. The only way I got to make it was
because of the huge success of `10,' and even then they tried to
Because many of his films were studded with farcical situations,
reviewers often criticized his work. "In Mr. Edward's comic world,
noses are to be stung, heads to have hangovers, and beautiful women
to be pursued at any cost," wrote The New York Times' Vincent
Canby in a review of "10." Gary Arnold of the Washington Post
added: "Edwards seems to take two dumb steps for every smart one.
... He can't seem to resist the most miserable sight gags that
occur to him."
However, Richard Schickel wrote in Time magazine: "When
director Edwards is at his best, there is something bracing, and in
these days, unique about his comedy. ... He really wants to save
the world by showing how stupid some of its creatures can be."
Steve Martin expressed his thoughts on Twitter, writing, "Blake
Edwards was one of the people who made me love comedy. Sorry to
hear of his passing."
Although many of Edwards' films were solid hits, he was
nominated for Academy Awards only twice, in 1982 for writing the
adapted screenplay of "Victor/Victoria" and in 1983 for
co-writing "The Man Who Loved Women." Lemmon and Remick won Oscar
nominations in 1962 for "Days of Wine and Roses," and Hepburn was
nominated for "Breakfast at Tiffany's" in 1961.
The motion picture academy selected Edwards to receive a
lifetime achievement award in 2004 for "his writing, directing and
producing an extraordinary body of work for the screen."
When he collected the award, he jokingly referred to his wife:
"My mother thanks you, my father thanks you, and the beautiful
English broad with the incomparable soprano and promiscuous
vocabulary thanks you."
'Pink Panther' Director Blake Edwards Dies at 88
Edwards died of complications from pneumonia.
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
The Baltimore Sun encourages civil dialogue related to our stories; you must register and log-in to our site in order to participate. We reserve the right to remove any user and to delete comments that violate our Terms of Service. By commenting, you agree to these terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.