Blake Edwards, the director and writer known for clever dialogue, poignance and occasional belly-laugh sight gags in Breakfast at Tiffany's, 10 and the Pink Panther farces, is dead at age 88.
Edwards died from complications of pneumonia at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, said publicist Gene Schwam. Blake's wife, Julie Andrews, and other family members were at his side.
"His heart was as big as his talent. He was an Academy Award winner in all respects," said Schwam, who knew him for 40 years.
A third-generation filmmaker, Edwards was praised for evoking classic performances from Jack Lemmon, Audrey Hepburn, Peter Sellers, Dudley Moore, Lee Remick and Andrews, whom he married in 1968.
He directed and often wrote a wide variety of movies including Days of Wine and Roses, a harrowing story of alcoholism; The Great Race, a comedy-adventure that starred Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood; and Victor/Victoria, his gender-bender musical comedy with Andrews.
He was also known for an independent spirit that brought clashes with studio bosses. He vented his disdain for the Hollywood system in his 1981 black comedy, S.O.B.
"I was certainly getting back at some of the producers of my life," he once remarked, "although I was a good deal less scathing than I could have been."
Although many of Edwards' films were solid hits, he 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.
William Blake McEdwards was born July 26, 1922, in Tulsa, Okla. The family moved to Hollywood three years later, and the boy grew up on his father's movie sets.
Edwards began in films as an actor, playing small roles in such movies as A Guy Named Joe and Ten Gentlemen From West Point. A career in TV and radio followed before he turned to directing.
His survivors include a daughter, Jennifer, and a son, Geoffrey, from a first marriage; two Vietnamese daughters, Amy and Joanna, whom he and Andrews adopted; and a stepdaughter, Emma, Andrews' daughter from her marriage to the Broadway designer Tony Walton.
"My entire life has been a search for a funny side to that very tough life out there," Edwards once said. "I developed a kind of eye for scenes that made me laugh to take the pain away."
This report contains material from the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times and New York Times.