‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ Director Blake Edwards is Dead at 88

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CHICAGO – If you love movies, you love Blake Edwards. The iconic comic director, best known for teaming with Peter Sellers in a series of wacky Pink Panther adventures, also directed such classics as “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Days of Wine and Roses,” “The Great Race” “10” and “Victor Victoria.” Blake Edwards died Wednesday at age 88.

Born William Blake Crump in 1922 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Edwards began his career as a writer/director in Hollywood’s “Silver Age” in the 1950’s, after a stint as an actor in the 1940’s, mostly playing uncredited military types in such films as “They were Expendable” and “The Best Years of Our Lives.” He began in radio, writing the popular “Richard Diamond” series, and moved on to television with Diamond star Dick Powell with “Four Star Playhouse.”

Peter Sellers (left) and Blake Edwards (right) trying out a gag during their legendary collaboration
Peter Sellers (left) and Blake Edwards (right) trying out a gag during their memorable collaboration
Photo credit: BFI

Edwards went on to create the famous “Peter Gunn” TV show in 1958, teaming with life-long collaborator and composer Henry Mancini, who won all four of his Oscars scoring Blake Edwards films (most notably Breakfast at Tiffany’s, creating the song “Moon River” with lyricist Johnny Mercer).

Beginning with his film directorial debut in 1955 (”Bring Your Smile Along”), Edwards went on to work with stars as diverse as Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood, James Garner, Burt Reynolds and Dudley Moore. His most famous collaboration was with Peter Sellers, in both the Pink Panther series (beginning with the classic “A Shot in the Dark” in 1964) and “The Party” (1968). His relationship with Sellers disintegrated by the end of the Panther series, with Edwards quoted as saying, “Peter Sellers became a monster. He just got bored with the part [Inspector Clouseau] and became angry, sullen and unprofessional…never for a moment stopping to see whether or not he should blame himself for his own madness, his own craziness.”

Another collaborator was Edward’s second wife, Julie Andrews, who starred in “Darling Lili,” “The Tamarind Seed,” “10” “S.O.B” (in which she did a infamous topless scene), “Victor Victoria,” “The Man Who Loved Women” and “That’s Life!” for the director. Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards were married for 41 years.

Icon: Audrey Hepburn has ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s,’ directed by Blake Edwards
Legendary: Audrey Hepburn has ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s,’ directed by Blake Edwards
Photo credit: Paramount Home Video

His most famous film is undoubtably the 1961 Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The opening sequence is one of the most famous in movie history, with Audrey Hepburn having her lonely morning meal at the famous jewelers, establishing a sense of style and longing that has been admired and copied ever since.

Blake Edwards died of complications related to pneumonia in Santa Monica, California, on Wednesday night. He is survived by his wife Julie Andrews, five children from his two marriages, and several grandchildren.

Source material for this article came from The New York Times and imdb.com.
Blake Edwards, 1922-2010.

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Senior Staff Writer

© 2010 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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