Blake Edwards (1922-2010) is recognized throughout the world as a filmmaker whose name is synonymous with elegance and polish. Whether the form be social satire or slapstick, film or – for the first time with Victor/Victoria – stage, it is that unique talent that is best described as the Edwards savoir-faire. He was one of the few film directors to break the sound-of-laughter barrier worldwide and has been an international favorite since the 1961 release of his enchanting Breakfast at Tiffany’s starring the late Audrey Hepburn. The 49 films Mr. Edwards directed, many of which he wrote and produced, have grossed more than one and one-half billion dollars at the box office.
A master of both comedy and drama, Edwards counts among the tools of his trade a superb sense of timing and an almost clairvoyant insight into what audiences find amusing. His comedies, such as the Pink Panther films (the most successful comedy film series ever made), Micki & Maude, Victor/Victoria, The Great Race, Blind Date, 10 and Switch are just some of the many classics the distinguished filmmaker brought to the screen.
As a filmmaker, Edwards always took chances by being on the cutting edge, and was recognized for his uncompromising style and innovations. His work includes such memorable dramas as Days of Wine and Roses, starring Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick, and Experiment in Terror, starring Glenn Ford and Lee Remick. The Edwards spectrum also includes the poignant comedy/drama That’s Life, starring Jack Lemmon and Julie Andrews, and his masterful black comedy about Hollywood, S.O.B., starring William Holden, Robert Preston, Robert Webber and an outstanding company of players.
Edwards began his movie career in front of the camera, appearing in more than two dozen films before “deciding I wasn’t an actor.” He also worked as a writer and producer in films, and created one popular radio series, Richard Diamond: Private Detective, while writing for two others. In 1956, he wrote and directed Mr. Cory, starring Tony Curtis, which was by his own admission “my first film of any consequence.”
Edwards moved into television in 1958 with the creation of two highly stylized, innovative and popular television series: Peter Gunn, which ran for 114 episodes until 1961, and Mr. Lucky, which played for two seasons on network television. It was with Peter Gunn and Mr. Lucky that the remarkable Blake Edwards/Harry Mancini collaboration was born – a collaboration that produced (among many other gems) one of the most instantly recognizable melodies ever penned, the theme from The Pink Panther.
Not limiting his creativity to film, Blake Edwards was also a highly-accomplished painter and sculptor. He was a strong supporter of individual and humanitarian actions and championed the cause of the underdog and the needy. Together with his wife, Julie Andrews, was one of the driving forces behind the mercy flights organized worldwide by Operation USA, the international non-profit relief agency. He was also on the board of the Hereditary Disease Foundation, at the forefront of the burgeoning science of genetics.
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