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Blake Edwards, man behind Pink Panther and Breakfast at Tiffany's, dies aged 88

Blake Edwards, the director and writer known for clever dialogue, poignancy and belly laughs in Breakfast At Tiffany's, 10 and the Pink Panther, has died at 88.

Edwards died from complications of pneumonia late on Wednesday in Santa Monica. Blake's wife, Julie Andrews, and other family members were at his side.

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

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 years.

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.

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."

Breakfast At Tiffany's in 1961 established Edwards as a stylish director who could combine comedy with bittersweet romance.

For a decade, Edwards' only hits were Pink Panther sequels. Then came 10, which he produced and wrote. The sex comedy became a box-office winner, creating a star of Bo Derek.

Andrews and Edwards married in 1968. They adopted two Vietnamese children, Amy and Jo.

Edwards won a lifetime achievement Oscar in 2004.