The director, writer and producer passed away at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California on Wednesday night (15Dec10) after suffering complications from pneumonia.
He had been hospitalised for two weeks and was already battling knee problems, according to his longtime publicist, Gene Schwam. The rep added Edwards had been “pretty much confined to a wheelchair for the last year-and-a-half or two”.
His wife and other family members were by his bedside when he died.
Born William Blake Crump in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Edwards began his career as an actor and screenwriter, penning seven scripts for late actor/filmmaker Richard Quine.
He landed his big break on Orson Welles’ production of War of the Worlds and went on to create screenplays for detective series Richard Diamond, Private Detective and Peter Gunn.
He later established himself as a director, working with Audrey Hepburn to bring Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s to the big screen in 1961, before taking on Days of Wine and Roses in 1962.
But he will perhaps be best remembered as the comic genius behind the Pink Panther series, teaming up with Peter Sellers for six of the hit movies in the franchise.
His other comedy credits include 10, Victor/Victoria and black comedy S.O.B., all starring Andrews, his wife of 41 years.
In 2004, he was presented with an Honorary Academy Award in recognition of his extensive body of film work.
Edwards is survived by Andrews, his two children Jennifer and Geoffrey from his first marriage to Patricia Walker, and two adopted kids from Vietnam, Amelia Leigh and Joanna Lynne. He was also stepfather to The Sound of Music icon’s daughter Emma, from her previous union to Tony Walton.