Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Pink Panther and Peter Gunn maestro writer/director BLAKE EDWARDS has died at 88 from complications from pneumonia.
Blake’s wife JULIE ANDREWS was at his side as the writer/director known for his wit and style passed last night at St John’s healthy center in Santa Monica.
Edwards had "been confined to a wheelchair for the past two and a half years" his publicist Gene Schwan said.
Among Blake’s numerous A-List creds were the classic detective TV show Peter Gunn, The Great Race with Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood, the uber-creepy Experiment in Terror, boozy drama Days of Wine and Roses, The Pink Panther series with Peter Sellers and the ultimate gender- bender Victor/Victoria starring Julie Andrews.
Blake also launched the career of Bo Derek in 10.
His long career in film was marked with a successful collaboration with composer
Henry Mancini including the classics – "The Peter Gunn Theme", "Experiment in Terror", "Moon River" from Tiffany’s and, of course, The Pink Panther theme.
Although many of Edwards’ films were box office hits as he alternated between belly laughs and poignancy intimate character pieces Edwards was nominated for Academy Awards only twice, in 1982 for writing the adapted screenplay of Victor/Victoria and in 1983 for co-writing The Man Who Loved Women (which was adapted from French filmmaker’s Francois Truffaut‘s film of the same name).
Chronically depressed his entire life, Edwards told The New York Times at one point his depression was so severe he became "seriously suicidal."
After coming to the conclusion that shooting himself would be too messy and drowning too tentative, he would slit his wrists while sitting on the Malibu beach gazing out on the Pacific.
But as he held a two-sided razor, his Great Dane started licking his ear. Then his retriever dropped a ball in his lap, eager to play "catch".
Trying to get back to the business at hand, Edwards threw the ball to rid himself of the dog, dropped the razor and promptly dislocated his shoulder.
"So I think to myself," Edwards recalled, "this just isn’t a day to commit suicide."
Trying to pick up the razor, he stepped on it by mistake and found himself in the emergency room.
"My entire life has been a search for a funny side to that very tough life out there," Edwards said.
"I developed a kind of eye for scenes that made me laugh to take the pain away."
And made US laugh as well.