Blake Edwards, the prolific film director, producer and screenwriter who made his name with Breakfast At Tiffany's before managing, via the Pink Panther films, to create a hugely lucrative comedy franchise which jollified Hollywood for almost four decades, has died at the age of 88.
A publicist, Gene Schwam, said Edwards, who had been in a wheelchair for the final year of his life, had died due to complications of pneumonia. His wife, actress Julie Andrews, was at his side along with other family members.
Though he was responsible for more than 100 films and television shows — including the box office smash 10, Dudley Moore's 1979 romantic comedy with Bo Derek — Edwards will be chiefly remembered as the man responsible for perfecting the modern screwball comedy in collaboration with his friend Peter Sellers, the British actor who played Inspector Clouseau in the five original Pink Panther films of the 1970s.
Like many of his more commercial hits, the films were acclaimed for their brilliant dialogue and perfectly-pitched use of slapstick. Yet despite their influence, and enduring popular following, they met with a mixed reception and were occasionally derided by the Hollywood establishment.
Edwards was nominated just once for an Oscar, getting a nod for Best Screenplay for his 1982 film Victor Victoria. The only time he actually walked away with a gold statuette, however, was in 2004, when the academy presented him with an honorary gong.