'Pink Panther' director Blake Edwards dies

Oscar-winning director Blake Edwards, who made the "Pink Panther" movies and the 1961 classic "Breakfast at Tiffany's," has died at the age of 88, his agent said Thursday.

Edwards, who died Wednesday, worked with cinema legends including Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in a career stretching more than half a century.

Married to actress Julie Andrews, he also famously rated actress Bo Derek a perfect "10" in the 1979 film of that name with Dudley Moore, and won a honorary lifetime achievement Oscar in 2004.

But he is probably best known for the "Pink Panther" series starting in 1963, in which bumbling Inspector Clouseau played by British actor Peter Sellers hunts David Niven's aristocratic jewel thief Sir Charles Lytton.

"He was the most unique man I have ever known - and he was my mate. He will be missed beyond words and will forever be in my heart," his wife said in a statement.

He died in Santa Monica Wednesday night "surrounded by his family, including his adoring wife of 41 years, Julie Andrews," from complications of pneumonia, said Edward's agent Lou Pitt.

Born William Blake Crump in Tulsa, Oklahoma on July 26, 1922, Edwards was a stepson of stage director Jack McEdwards. He grew up in the film business, went to school with children of Hollywood stars and roomed with actor Mickey Rooney.

After a brief stint as an actor, Edwards mastered behind-the-camera crafts including screenwriting, directing and producing. He began as a script writer for a radio detective show where the first glimmers of his humor appeared.



The "Pink Panther" movies - with their infectious theme music scored by Henri Mancini - were immediate blockbusters, although Edwards did not always see eye to eye with Sellers.

The men clashed on the set, but Edwards allowed Sellers to make a bumbler out of Clouseau and move the character to the center of the plot. It worked.

They made seven films altogether between 1964 and 1978. But the relationship between the two men soured, and at the time of Sellers' death in 1980, Edwards was working on a new Clouseau movie without him.

"Peter Sellers became a monster. He just got bored with the part and became angry, sullen and unprofessional," Edwards said in remarks on the industry website imbd.

In the end, Edwards was to work closest with Andrews, who ditched her most holy image as the nun Maria in the "Sound of Music" to play a cross-dresser in his 1992 film and 1995 stage production of "Victor/Victoria."

She even famously bared her breasts in his 1981 film, "S.O.B."

Art imitating life became a natural and recurring theme for Edwards, and he was accused of doing just that in "S.O.B.," about a director whose wholesome film starring his wife bombs.

To save the movie, the director decides to make it steamier and win a Restricted rating by adding nude shots of his wife, but Edwards was accused of manipulating Andrews.

Edwards named Jack Lemmon as his favorite actor to work with. He played Jack Clay, who slides into alcoholism with his wife, played by Lee Remick, in the 1962 film "Days of Wine and Roses.".

Edwards' films range widely in subject, including the coming-out story of "Breakfast at Tiffany's," adapted from the Truman Capote novel, earning Oscars for Hepburn, Mancini and Johnny Mercer, who wrote the lyrics to "Moon River."

Edwards is survived by Andrews, his second wife whom he married in 1969, along with their five children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, his agent said.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

    Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

    In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
    Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

    How has your club fared in summer sales?

    Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
    Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

    'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

    Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
    The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

    The best swim shorts for men

    Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup