Blake Edwards: Hollywood film director dies aged 88

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David Sillito looks back at Blake Edwards' work

The American film-maker Blake Edwards has died in southern California at the age of 88.

Edwards died of complications from pneumonia on Wednesday at St John's Health Centre in Santa Monica, his publicist said.

His wife, the actress Julie Andrews, and other members of his family were at his side, Gene Schwam added.

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Edwards married Julie Andrews in 1969 and directed her in a string of films

Among the films Edwards directed were The Pink Panther, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Victor/Victoria and 10.

He never won an Academy Award for any of his films, but was given an honorary Oscar in 2004 for his "extraordinary body of work".

Edwards had been receiving treatment in hospital for two weeks prior to his death, Mr Schwam said.

The director had knee problems and had been "pretty much confined to a wheelchair for the last year-and-a-half or two", he added.

At the time of his death, Edwards was working on two Broadway musicals - one based on the Pink Panther movies, the other a comedy set during the Prohibition era entitled Big Rosemary.

"His heart was as big as his talent. He was an Academy Award winner in all respects," Mr Schwam told the Associated Press.

One of Hollywood's most successful specialists in comedy, Edwards was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1922 and started out as an actor.

After appearing in about 30 films, he worked as a TV scriptwriter before becoming a director.

His first significant success came with the 1959 film Operation Petticoat, starring Cary Grant and Tony Curtis.

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At the time of his death, Edwards was working on a Broadway musical based on The Pink Panther

He then charmed audiences with his adaptation of Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's, which gave Audrey Hepburn one of her most memorable roles.

In 1963, Edwards created one of film comedy's classic characters in The Pink Panther.

After Peter Ustinov dropped out, Edwards persuaded Peter Sellers to play the accident-prone Inspector Clouseau.

His last major success came in 1982 with Victor/Victoria, a musical comedy that saw Julie Andrews play a woman who pretends to be a man masquerading as a woman.

Andrews, now 75 and a dame, married Edwards in 1969.

He is survived by her and his four children - two from his first marriage to Patricia Walker, and two whom he adopted with Andrews.