Clown king of comedy Blake Edwards dies of pneumonia
Published 17/12/2010 | 05:00
FILM mogul Blake Edwards, the director and writer of 'Breakfast at Tiffany's', '10' and the 'Pink Panther' farces, has died at the age of 88.
Edwards died from complications of pneumonia on Wednesday morning in Santa Monica, California, according to publicist Gene Schwam.
His wife, the veteran British actress Julie Andrews, and other family members were at his side. He had been hospitalised 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", Mr Schwam said. That conceivably 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 in the US, Mr Schwam said.
"His heart was as big as his talent. He was an Academy Award winner in all respects," said Mr Schwam, who knew him for 40 years.
He never won an Academy Award for any of his films, but was given an honourary Oscar in 2004 for his "extraordinary body of work".
One of Hollywood's most successful specialists in comedy, Edwards was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1922 and started out as an actor.
After appearing in about 30 films, he worked as a TV scriptwriter before becoming a director. His first significant success came with the 1959 film, 'Operation Petticoat'.
He then charmed audiences with his adaptation of Truman Capote's 'Breakfast at Tiffany's', which gave Audrey Hepburn one of her most memorable roles.
In 1963, Edwards created one of film's classic characters. After Peter Ustinov dropped out, Edwards persuaded Peter Sellers to play the Inspector Clouseau in 'The Pink Panther'.
His last major success came in 1982 with 'Victor/Victoria', a musical comedy that saw Julie Andrews play a starving singer who pretends to be a homosexual Polish count masquerading as a female impersonator.
Andrews, now 75, and Edwards married in 1969. He is survived by her and his four children -- two from his first marriage to Patricia Walker, and two whom he adopted with Andrews.