Blake Edwards

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Blake Edwards
Edwards in 1966
William Blake Crump

(1922-07-26)July 26, 1922
DiedDecember 15, 2010(2010-12-15) (aged 88)
  • Director
  • screenwriter
  • producer
  • actor
Years active1942–1995
  • Patricia Walker
    (m. 1953; div. 1967)
  • (m. 1969)
Children4, including Jennifer
RelativesJ. Gordon Edwards (step-grandfather)

Blake Edwards (born William Blake Crump; July 26, 1922 – December 15, 2010) was an American film director, producer, screenwriter, and actor.

Edwards began his career in the 1940s as an actor, but he soon began writing screenplays and radio scripts before turning to producing and directing in television and films. His best-known films include Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), Days of Wine and Roses (1962), A Shot in the Dark (1964), The Great Race (1965), 10 (1979), Victor/Victoria (1982), Blind Date (1987), and the hugely successful Pink Panther film series with British actor Peter Sellers. Often thought of as primarily a director of comedies, he also directed several drama, musical, and detective films. Late in his career, he took up writing, producing and directing for theater.

In 2004, he received an Honorary Academy Award in recognition of his writing, directing and producing an extraordinary body of work for the screen.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born William Blake Crump July 26, 1922,[2] in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he was the son of Donald and Lillian (née Grommett) Crump (1897–1992).[3] In an interview with Andre Previn, Blake Edwards claimed to be a descendant of William Blake.[4] His father reportedly left the family before he was born. His mother married again, to Jack McEdward,[5] who became his stepfather. McEdward was the son of J. Gordon Edwards, a director of silent movies, and in 1925, he moved the family to Los Angeles and became a film production manager.[6] In an interview with The Village Voice in 1971, Blake Edwards said that he had "always felt alienated, estranged from my own father, Jack McEdward".[7] After graduating from Beverly Hills High School in the class of Winter 1941, Blake began taking jobs as an actor during World War II.

Edwards describes this period:

I worked with the best directors – Ford, Wyler, Preminger – and learned a lot from them. But I wasn't a very cooperative actor. I was a spunky, smart-assed kid. Maybe even I was indicating that I wanted to give, not take, direction.[7]

Edwards served in the United States Coast Guard during World War II, where he suffered a severe back injury, which left him in pain for years afterwards.[6]


Edwards's debut as a director came in 1952 on the television program Four Star Playhouse.[8]

In the 1954–1955 television season, Edwards joined with Richard Quine to create Mickey Rooney's first television series, The Mickey Rooney Show: Hey, Mulligan. Edwards's hard-boiled private detective scripts for Richard Diamond, Private Detective became NBC's answer to Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe, reflecting Edwards's unique humor. Edwards also created, wrote, and directed the 1958–61 TV detective series Peter Gunn, which starred Craig Stevens, with music by Henry Mancini. The following year, Edwards produced Mr. Lucky, an adventure series on CBS starring John Vivyan and Ross Martin. Mancini's association with Edwards continued in his film work, significantly contributing to their success.

Edwards's most popular films were comedies, the melodrama Days of Wine and Roses being a notable exception. His most dynamic and successful collaboration was with Peter Sellers in six of the movies in the Pink Panther series.[9] Edwards later directed the comedy film 10 with Dudley Moore and Bo Derek.[9]

Operation Petticoat (1959)[edit]

Operation Petticoat was Edwards's first big-budget movie as a director. The film, which starred Cary Grant and Tony Curtis and was produced by Grant's own production company, Granart Company, became the "greatest box-office success of the decade for Universal [Studios]" and made Edwards a recognized director.[6]

Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)[edit]

Breakfast at Tiffany's, based on the novella by Truman Capote, is credited with establishing him as a "cult figure" with many critics. Andrew Sarris called it the "directorial surprise of 1961", and it became a "romantic touchstone" for college students in the early 1960s.[6]

Days of Wine and Roses (1962)[edit]

Days of Wine And Roses, a dark psychological film about the effects of alcoholism on a previously happy marriage, starred Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick. It has been described as "perhaps the most unsparing tract against drink that Hollywood has yet produced, more pessimistic than Billy Wilder's The Lost Weekend". The film gave another major boost to Edwards's reputation as an important director.[6]

Darling Lili (1970)[edit]

According to critic George Morris, Darling Lili "synthesizes every major Edwards theme: the disappearance of gallantry and honor, the tension between appearances and reality and the emotional, spiritual, moral, and psychological disorder" in such a world. Edwards used complex cinematography techniques, including long-shot zooms, tracking, and focus distortion, to great effect.[6] However, the film failed badly with most critics and at the box office. Despite a cost of $17 million to make, it was seen by few cinema-goers, and the few who did watch were unimpressed. It brought Paramount Pictures to "the verge of financial collapse", and became an example of "self-indulgent extravagance" in filmmaking "that was ruining Hollywood".[6]

Darling Lili star Julie Andrews had married Edwards in 1969.[citation needed]

Pink Panther film series[edit]

Edwards also directed most of the comedy film series The Pink Panther, the majority of installments starring Peter Sellers as the inept Inspector Clouseau. The relationship between the director and the lead actor was considered a fruitful yet complicated one with many disagreements during production. At various times in their film relationship, "he more than once swore off Sellers" as too hard to direct. However, in his later years, he admitted that working with Sellers was often irresistible:

"We clicked on comedy and we were lucky we found each other because we both had so much respect for it. We also had an ability to come up with funny things and great situations that had to be explored. But in that exploration there would often times be disagreement. But I couldn't resist those moments when we gelled. And if you ask me who contributed most to those things, it couldn't have happened unless both of us were involved, even though it wasn't always happy."[10]

Five of those films involved Edwards and Sellers in original material; those films being The Pink Panther (1963), A Shot in the Dark (1964), The Return of the Pink Panther (1975), The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976), and Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978). (1968's Inspector Clouseau, the third film in the series, was made without the involvement of Edwards or Sellers.) The films were all highly profitable: The Return of the Pink Panther, for example, cost just $2.5 million to make but grossed $100 million, while The Pink Panther Strikes Again did even better.[6]

After Sellers's death in 1980, Edwards directed three further Pink Panther films. Trail of the Pink Panther (1982) consisted of unused material of Sellers from The Pink Panther Strikes Again as well as previously seen material from the earlier films. Curse of the Pink Panther (1983) and Son of the Pink Panther (1993) were further attempts by Edwards to continue the series without Sellers but both films were critical and financial disappointments. Edwards eventually retired from film making two years after the release of Son of the Pink Panther.

In addition to the Pink Panther films, Edwards directed Sellers in the comedy film The Party.

Silent-film style[edit]

Having grown up in Hollywood, the stepson of a studio production manager and stepgrandson of a silent-film director, Edwards had watched the films of the great silent-era comedians, including Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Laurel and Hardy. He and Sellers appreciated and understood the comedy styles in silent films and tried to recreate them in their work together. After their immense success with the first two Pink Panther films, The Pink Panther (1963) and A Shot in the Dark (1964), which adapted many silent-film aspects, including slapstick, they attempted to go even further in The Party (1968). The film has always had a cult following, and some critics and fans have considered it a "masterpiece in this vein" of silent comedy, though it did include minimal dialogue.[11][12]

Personal life[edit]


Edwards married his first wife, actress Patricia Walker, in 1953; they divorced in 1967. Edwards and Walker had two children, actress Jennifer Edwards and actor-writer-director Geoffrey Edwards.[13] Walker appeared in the comedy All Ashore (1953), for which Edwards was one of the screenwriters. Edwards also named one of his film production companies, Patricia Productions, Incorporated, after her.[14]

Edwards's second marriage, from 1969 until his death in 2010, was to Julie Andrews. They were married for 41 years. He was the stepfather to Emma, from Andrews's previous marriage. In the 1970s, Edwards and Andrews adopted two Vietnamese daughters; Amy Leigh (later known as Amelia) in 1974 and Joanna Lynne in 1975.[15]


Edwards described his struggle for 15 years with the illness myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) in the documentary I Remember Me (2000).[16]

Death and legacy[edit]

On December 15, 2010, Edwards died of complications of pneumonia at the Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California. He was 88.[3]

Edwards was greatly admired, and criticized, as a filmmaker. His critics are alluded to by American film author George Morris:

It has been difficult for many critics to accept Blake Edwards as anything more than a popular entertainer. Edwards' detractors acknowledge his formal skill, but deplore the absence of profundity in his movies. Edwards' movies are slick and glossy, but their shiny surfaces reflect all too accurately the disposable values of contemporary life.[6]

Others, however, recognized him more for his significant achievements at different periods of his career. British film critic Peter Lloyd, for example, described Edwards, in 1971, as "the finest director working in the American commercial cinema at the present time". Edwards's biographers, William Luhr and Peter Lehman,[17] in an interview in 1974, called him "the finest American director working at this time".[18] They refer especially to the Pink Panther's Clouseau, developed with the comedic skills of Peter Sellers as a character "perfectly consistent" with his "absurdist view of the world, because he has no faith in anything and constantly adapts". Critic Stuart Byron calls his first two Pink Panther films "two of the best comedies an American has ever made". Polls taken at the time showed that his name, as a director, was a rare "marketable commodity" in Hollywood.[6]

Edwards himself described one of the secrets to success in the film industry:

For someone who wants to practice his art in this business, all you can hope to do, as S.O.B. says, is stick to your guns, make the compromises you must, and hope that somewhere along the way you acquire a few good friends who understand. And keep half a conscience.[6]



Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1948 Panhandle No Yes Yes
1949 Stampede No Yes Yes
1952 Sound Off No Yes No
Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder No Yes No
1953 All Ashore No Yes No
Cruisin' Down the River No Yes No
1954 Drive a Crooked Road No Yes No
The Atomic Kid No Yes No
1955 Bring Your Smile Along Yes Yes No
My Sister Eileen No Yes No
1956 He Laughed Last Yes Yes No
1957 Mister Cory Yes Yes No
Operation Mad Ball No Yes No
1958 This Happy Feeling Yes Yes No
The Perfect Furlough Yes No No
1959 Operation Petticoat Yes No No
1960 High Time Yes Uncredited Uncredited
1961 Breakfast at Tiffany's Yes No No
1962 Experiment in Terror Yes No Yes
Days of Wine and Roses Yes No No
The Couch No Story No
The Notorious Landlady No Yes No
1963 Soldier in the Rain No Yes Yes
The Pink Panther Yes Yes No
1964 A Shot in the Dark Yes Yes Yes
1965 The Great Race Yes Story No
1966 What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? Yes Story Yes
1967 Gunn Yes Yes No Also executive producer (Uncredited)
Waterhole No. 3 No No Uncredited
1968 The Party Yes Yes Yes
1970 Darling Lili Yes Yes Yes
1971 Wild Rovers Yes Yes Yes
1972 The Carey Treatment Yes No No
Julie Yes No No Documentary film
1974 The Tamarind Seed Yes Yes No
1975 The Return of the Pink Panther Yes Yes Yes
1976 The Pink Panther Strikes Again Yes Yes Yes
1978 Revenge of the Pink Panther Yes Yes Yes
1979 10 Yes Yes Yes
1981 S.O.B. Yes Yes Yes
1982 Victor/Victoria Yes Yes Yes
Trail of the Pink Panther Yes Yes Yes
1983 Curse of the Pink Panther Yes Yes Yes
The Man Who Loved Women Yes Yes Yes
1984 City Heat No Yes No
Micki & Maude Yes No No
1986 A Fine Mess Yes Yes No
That's Life! Yes Yes No
1987 Blind Date Yes Uncredited No
1988 Sunset Yes Yes No
1989 Skin Deep Yes Yes No
1991 Switch Yes Yes No
1993 Son of the Pink Panther Yes Yes No


Year Title Director Writer Creator
1948 Hollywood Star Theatre No Yes No
1949-1953 Richard Diamond, Private Detective Yes Yes Yes
1949-1962 Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar No Yes No
1950-1952 The Lineup No Yes No
1951 Broadway is My Beat No Yes No
Suspense No Yes No


Year Title Director Writer Producer Creator Notes
1952 Invitation Playhouse: Mind Over Murder No Yes No No Episode "The Long Night"
1952-1954 Four Star Playhouse Yes Yes No No Directed 5 episodes, wrote 9 episodes
1954 The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse Yes No No No Episode "Death, The Hard Way"
City Detective Yes No No No Episode "Midnight Supper"
The Lineup No Yes No No Episode "Cop Killer"
1955 The Mickey Rooney Show Yes No No No 33 episodes
The Star and the Story Yes No No No Episode "Safe Journey"
The Jane Wyman Show Yes Yes No No Directed episode "Big Joe's Comin' Home";
Wrote episode "The Smuggler"
1956 Ford Television Theatre No Yes No No Episode "The Payoff"
1957 Studio 57 Yes Yes No No Directed episode "Big Joe's Comin' Home";
Wrote episode "The Smuggler"
Meet McGraw No Yes No No Episode "Tycoon"
1957-1960 Richard Diamond, Private Detective No Yes No Yes 4 episodes
1958-1961 Peter Gunn Yes Yes Yes Yes Directed 10 episodes;
Wrote 11 episodes
1959-1960 Mr. Lucky Yes Yes No Yes Wrote and directed episode "The Magnificent Bribe"
1960-1961 Dante No No No Yes
1962 The Dick Powell Show Yes Story No No Episode "The Boston Terrier"
1992 Julie Yes No Executive No 7 episodes

TV movies

Year Title Director Writer Executive
1954 Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer Yes Yes No
1962 Johnny Dollar Yes Yes Yes
1969 The Monk No Story No
1984 The Ferret No Yes Yes
1988 Justin Case Yes Yes Yes
1989 Peter Gunn Yes Yes Yes


Year Title Director Writer Executive
1995-1999 Victor/Victoria Yes Yes Yes Broadway production and Broadway tour
1999 Big Rosemary Yes Yes Yes Off-Broadway production, 2004 theatrical workshop, 2008 Broadway preview
2003 Scapegoat Yes Yes Yes Theatrical workshop

Awards and honors[edit]

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1982 Academy Awards Best Adapted Screenplay Victor/Victoria Nominated
2003 Academy Honorary Award Won
1962 Golden Globe Awards Best Director The Days of Wine and Roses Nominated
1959 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series Peter Gunn Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Nominated

In 2004, Edwards received an Honorary Academy Award for cumulative achievements over the course of his film career.[19] As Entertainment Weekly reported, "Honorary Oscar winner Blake Edwards made an entrance worthy of Peter Sellers in one of Edwards' Pink Panther films: A stuntman who looked just like Edwards rode a speeding wheelchair past a podium and crashed through a wall. When the octogenarian director entered and dusted himself off as if he had crashed, he told presenter Jim Carrey, 'Don't touch my Oscar.'"[20] Also in 2004, Edwards received The Life Career Award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, during that year's Saturn Award ceremony.

In 1983, Edwards was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Screenplay for Victor/Victoria as well as winning Best Foreign Film and Best Foreign Screenplay in France and Italy, respectively for Victor/Victoria. In 1988, Edwards received the Creative Achievement Award from the American Comedy Awards. In 1991, Edwards received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1993, Edwards received the Preston Sturges Award jointly from the Directors Guild and the Writers Guild. In 2000, Edwards received the Contribution to Cinematic Imagery Award from the Art Directors Guild. In 2002, Edwards received the Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement from the Writers Guild as well as the Special Edgar from The Mystery Writers of America for career achievement.

Between 1962 and 1968, Edwards was nominated six times for a Golden Laurel Award as Best Director by Motion Picture Exhibitors. In 1963, Edwards was nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Director for Days of Wine and Roses. In 1962, Edwards was nominated for Outstanding Achievement by the Directors Guild for Breakfast at Tiffany's. In 1960, Edwards was nominated for an Edgar for Best Teleplay by the Mystery Writers of America for Peter Gunn. In 1959, Edwards was nominated for two Primetime Emmys as Best Director and Best Teleplay for Peter Gunn Between 1958 and 1983, Edwards was nominated eight times for Best Screenplay by the Writers Guild and won twice, for The Pink Panther Strikes Again and Victor/Victoria.


  1. ^ "Receiving Honorary Oscar in 2004". Archived from the original on November 7, 2021. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  2. ^ Weiss, Philip (October 1, 1995). "Return of the Punk Panther". The New York Times Magazine. [...] Edwards's wife, Julie Andrews, said his birthday was the 22nd [...]
  3. ^ a b Harmetz, Aljean (December 16, 2010). "Blake Edwards, Prolific Comedy Director, Dies at 88". The New York Times.
  4. ^ BBC2 program 1987
  5. ^ "Blake Edwards". The Telegram. London: December 16, 2010. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Wakeman, John (Ed.) World Film Directors Vol. 2. H.W. Wilson Co. (1988) pp. 302–310
  7. ^ a b Byron, Stuart (August 5, 1971). "Confessions of a Cult Figure". Village Voice. p. 56.
  8. ^ Feiwell, Jill (December 12, 2003). "Life Oscar to Edwards". Daily Variety. Archived from the original on March 29, 2015. Retrieved January 21, 2015 – via HighBeam Research.
  9. ^ a b Moody, Mike (December 16, 2010). "Filmmaker Blake Edwards dies, aged 88". Digital Spy. Hachette Filipacchi (UK) Ltd. Retrieved December 16, 2010.
  10. ^ "Blake Edwards:Old School" Archived December 14, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Directors Guild of America Quarterly, Summer 2009.
  11. ^ Kehr, Dave. International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers – 2: Directors 3rd Ed. St. James Press (1997) pp. 291–294
  12. ^ "Clips from The Party". January 22, 2009. Archived from the original on February 14, 2010. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  13. ^ Clifton, Emma (January 18, 2014). "The real-life Trophy Wife". NZHerald. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  14. ^ "Los Angeles Evening Citizen News from Hollywood, California on November 28, 1964". November 28, 1964. Retrieved June 29, 2021.
  15. ^ "The Pristine Princess – Adoption, Julie Andrews :". May 2, 2010. Archived from the original on May 2, 2010. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
  16. ^ Thomas, Kevin (May 30, 2002). "Tarr's 'Harmonies' Is Involving Puzzle". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 6, 2010.
  17. ^ Luhr, William, and Lehman, Peter. Blake Edwards, Ohio University Press (1981)
  18. ^ Velvet Light Trap magazine, Fall, 1974
  19. ^ "Blake Edwards, American director, dies aged 88". BBC News. December 16, 2010. Retrieved December 16, 2010.
  20. ^ EW Staff (March 1, 2004). "Blake Edwards had a memorable 2004 Oscars moment". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on August 8, 2021. Retrieved December 10, 2020.

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by Academy Honorary Award
Succeeded by