American filmmaker Blake Edwards was the grandson of [[Performer~P185133~J. Gordon Edwards~jgordonedwards]], director of such silent film epics as [[Feature~V106984~The Queen of Sheba~thequeenofsheba]] (1922). Blake started his own film career as an actor in 1943; he played bits in A-movies and leads in B-movies, paying his dues in such trivialities as [[Feature~V92668~Gangs of the Waterfront~gangsofthewaterfront]] and [[Feature~V47235~Strangler of the Swamp~strangleroftheswamp]] (both 1945). He turned to writing radio scripts, distinguishing himself on the above-average [[Performer~P106959~Dick Powell~dickpowell]] detective series Richard Diamond. As a screenwriter and staff producer at Columbia, Edwards was frequently teamed with director [[Performer~P107294~Richard Quine~richardquine]] for such lightweight entertainment as [[Feature~V111172~Sound Off~soundoff]] (1952), [[Feature~V107186~Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder~rainbowroundmyshoulder]] (1953), and [[Feature~V88294~Cruisin' Down the River~cruisindowntheriver]] (1953). He also served as associate producer on the popular syndicated [[Performer~P10428~Rod Cameron~rodcameron]] TV vehicle City Detective the same year. Given his first chance to direct a movie in 1955, Edwards turned out a [[Performer~P107294~Richard Quine~richardquine]]-like musical, [[Feature~V86010~Bring Your Smile Along~bringyoursmilealong]]; ironically, as Edwards' prestige grew, his style would be imitated by [[Performer~P107294~Quine~richardquine]]. A felicitous contract at Universal led Edwards to his first big box-office successes, including the [[Performer~P86429~Tony Curtis~tonycurtis]] film [[Feature~V102592~Mister Cory~mistercory]] (1957) and [[Performer~P28204~Cary Grant~carygrant]]'s [[Feature~V36545~Operation Petticoat~operationpetticoat]] (1959).
In 1958, Edwards produced, directed, and occasionally wrote for a hip TV detective series, [[Feature~V37867~Peter Gunn~petergunn]], which was distinguished by its film noir camerawork and driving jazz score by [[Performer~P100975~Henry Mancini~henrymancini]]. A second series, Mr. Lucky (1959), contained many of the elements that made [[Feature~V37867~Peter Gunn~petergunn]] popular, but suffered from a bad time slot and network interference. (Lucky was a gambler, a profession frowned upon by the more sanctimonious CBS executives.) The show did, however, introduce Edwards to actor [[Performer~P46031~Ross Martin~rossmartin]], who later appeared as an asthmatic criminal in Edwards' film [[Feature~V16358~Experiment in Terror~experimentinterror]] (1962). Continuing to turn out box-office bonanzas like [[Feature~V6998~Breakfast at Tiffany's~breakfastattiffanys]] (1961) and [[Feature~V12663~Days of Wine and Roses~daysofwineandroses]] (1962), Edwards briefly jumped on the comedy bandwagon of the mid-'60s with the slapstick epic [[Feature~V20759~The Great Race~thegreatrace]] (1965), which the director dedicated to his idols, "Mr. [[Performer~P98871~Laurel~stanlaurel]] and Mr. [[Performer~P30384~Hardy~oliverhardy]]." (Edwards' next homage to the duo was the far less successful 1986 comedy [[Feature~V17331~A Fine Mess~afinemess]]). In 1964, Edwards introduced the bumbling Inspector Clouseau to an unsuspecting world in [[Feature~V38169~The Pink Panther~thepinkpanther]], leading to a string of money-spinning Clouseau films starring [[Performer~P64447~Peter Sellers~petersellers]]; actually, [[Feature~V38169~The Pink Panther~thepinkpanther]] was Edwards' second Clouseau movie, since [[Feature~V44502~A Shot in the Dark~ashotinthedark]], although released after [[Feature~V38169~Panther~thepinkpanther]], was filmed first.
Despite the carefree spirit and great success of his comedies, Edwards hit a snag with [[Feature~V88735~Darling Lili~darlinglili]] (1969), a World War I musical starring Edwards' wife [[Performer~P1721~Julie Andrews~julieandrews]]. The film was a questionable piece to begin with (audiences were asked to sympathize with a German spy who cheerfully sent young British pilots to their deaths), but was made incomprehensible by Paramount's ruthless editing. [[Feature~V88735~Darling Lili~darlinglili]] sent Edwards career into decline, although he came back with the 1979 comedy hit [[Feature~V5~10~10]] and the scabrous satirical film [[Feature~V42434~S.O.B.~sob]] (1981). Edwards' track record in the 1980s and '90s was uneven, with such films as [[Feature~V6041~Blind Date~blinddate]] (1987), [[Feature~V47702~Sunset~sunset]] (1988), and [[Feature~V48196~Switch~switch]] (1991). The director was also unsuccessful in his attempts to revive the [[Feature~V158586~Pink Panther~pinkpanther[filmseries]]] comedies minus the services of [[Performer~P64447~Sellers~petersellers]] (who had died in 1980) as Clouseau. Still, Edwards always seemed able to find someone to bankroll his projects. And he left something of a legacy to Hollywood through his actress daughter [[Performer~P21253~Jennifer Edwards~jenniferedwards]] and screenwriter son [[Performer~P88694~Geoffrey Edwards~geoffreyedwards]].
In 2004, just when the world began to think it might never again hear from Edwards, the filmmaker gave a slapsticky acceptance speech in response to an honorary Academy Award. He died six years later, of complications from pneumonia, at the age of 88. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi