Blake Edwards (July 26, 1922 – December 15, 2010) was an American film director, screenwriter and producer.
Edwards' career began in the 1940s as an actor but he soon turned to writing radio scripts at Columbia Pictures. He used his writing skills to begin producing and directing, with some of his best films including: Experiment in Terror, The Great Race, and the hugely successful Pink Panther film series with the British comedian Peter Sellers. Often thought of as primarily a director of comedies, he was also renowned for his dramatic work, Breakfast at Tiffany's and Days of Wine and Roses. His greatest successes, however, were his comedies, and most of his films were either musicals, melodramas, slapstick comedies, and thrillers.
In 2004, he received an Honorary Academy Award in recognition of his writing, directing and producing an extraordinary body of work for the screen.
Born William Blake Crump in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His grandfather was J. Gordon Edwards, a director of silent movies, and his stepfather, Jack McEdwards, became a film production manager after moving his family to Los Angeles in 1925. In an interview with Village Voice in 1971, he said that he had "always felt alienated, estranged from my . . . father." After attending grammar and high school in Los Angeles, he 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 then I was indicating that I wanted to give, not take, direction.
He later served with the U.S. Coast Guard, where he severely injured his back, leaving him in pain for years afterward.
His 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 1959 TV series Peter Gunn, with music by Henry Mancini. In the same year Edwards produced, with Mancini's musical theme, 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.
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