"Pink Panther" director Blake Edwards dies at 88

Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:24pm EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Director, writer and producer Blake Edwards, who made more than 40 films including the classic "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and the "Pink Panther" comedies, has died from complications of pneumonia at age 88.

A spokesman for his wife, Julie Andrews, said Edwards died Wednesday night at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, with Andrews and immediate family members by his side.

During a career that spanned nearly seven decades, Edwards won wide acclaim for films such as "Days of Wine and Roses" and "Victor Victoria," but he also suffered flops.

At times he skewered Hollywood executives who sometimes shunned his work, and his battles with those executives got so intense that for a period he secretly taped conversations with them in order hold them to their promises.

Born July 26, 1922, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Edwards moved to Los Angeles at age 3. He broke into movies as an actor with a small role in the 1942 film "Ten Gentlemen from West Point" and appeared in some two dozen less-than-successful films.

"Look at any one of those movies," Edwards once said, "and you'll see why I decided to become a writer."

In the late 1940s, Edwards created the popular "Richard Diamond, Private Detective" radio series and wrote for other radio shows.

He later created two popular private-eye series for television, "Peter Gunn" and "Mr. Lucky." Edwards received Emmy nominations for writing and directing for "Peter Gunn" but decided to concentrate on writing and directing movies.   Continued...

<p>Director Blake Edwards accepts a toast made in his honor at a reception honoring him in Hollywood, February 26, 2004. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>