Blake Edwards (born William Blake Crump; July 26, 1922 – December 15, 2010) was an American film director, producer, screenwriter, and actor.
William Blake Crump
July 26, 1922
Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.
|Died||December 15, 2010 (aged 88)|
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
|Other names||Sam O. Brown|
|Children||4, including Jennifer|
|Relatives||J. Gordon Edwards (step-grandfather)|
Edwards began his career in the 1940s as an actor, but he soon began writing screenplays and radio scripts before turning to producing and directing in television and films. His best-known films include Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), Days of Wine and Roses (1962), A Shot in the Dark (1964), The Great Race (1965), 10 (1979), Victor/Victoria (1982), Blind Date (1987), and the hugely successful Pink Panther film series with British actor Peter Sellers. Often thought of as primarily a director of comedies, he also directed several drama, musical, and detective films. Late in his career, he took up writing, producing and directing for theater.
Early life edit
Born William Blake Crump July 26, 1922, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he was the son of Donald and Lillian (née Grommett) Crump (1897–1992). In an interview with Andre Previn, Blake Edwards claimed to be a descendant of William Blake. His father reportedly left the family before he was born. His mother married again, to Jack McEdward, who became his stepfather. McEdward was the son of J. Gordon Edwards, a director of silent movies, and in 1925, he moved the family to Los Angeles and became a film production manager. In an interview with The Village Voice in 1971, Blake Edwards said that he had "always felt alienated, estranged from my own father, Jack McEdward". After graduating from Beverly Hills High School in the class of Winter 1941, Blake began taking jobs as an actor during World War II.
Edwards describes this period:
In the 1954–1955 television season, Edwards joined with Richard Quine to create Mickey Rooney's first television series, The Mickey Rooney Show: Hey, Mulligan. Edwards's 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 1958–61 TV detective series Peter Gunn, which starred Craig Stevens, with music by Henry Mancini. The following year, Edwards produced 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.
Edwards's most popular films were comedies, the melodrama Days of Wine and Roses being a notable exception. His most dynamic and successful collaboration was with Peter Sellers in six of the movies in the Pink Panther series. Edwards later directed the comedy film 10 with Dudley Moore and Bo Derek.
Operation Petticoat (1959) edit
Operation Petticoat was Edwards's first big-budget movie as a director. The film, which starred Cary Grant and Tony Curtis and was produced by Grant's own production company, Granart Company, became the "greatest box-office success of the decade for Universal [Studios]" and made Edwards a recognized director.
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) edit
Breakfast at Tiffany's, based on the novella by Truman Capote, is credited with establishing him as a "cult figure" with many critics. Andrew Sarris called it the "directorial surprise of 1961", and it became a "romantic touchstone" for college students in the early 1960s.
Days of Wine and Roses (1962) edit
Days of Wine And Roses, a dark psychological film about the effects of alcoholism on a previously happy marriage, starred Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick. It has been described as "perhaps the most unsparing tract against drink that Hollywood has yet produced, more pessimistic than Billy Wilder's The Lost Weekend". The film gave another major boost to Edwards's reputation as an important director.
Darling Lili (1970) edit
According to critic George Morris, Darling Lili "synthesizes every major Edwards theme: the disappearance of gallantry and honor, the tension between appearances and reality and the emotional, spiritual, moral, and psychological disorder" in such a world. Edwards used complex cinematography techniques, including long-shot zooms, tracking, and focus distortion, to great effect. However, the film failed badly with most critics and at the box office. Despite a cost of $17 million to make, it was seen by few cinema-goers, and the few who did watch were unimpressed. It brought Paramount Pictures to "the verge of financial collapse", and became an example of "self-indulgent extravagance" in filmmaking "that was ruining Hollywood".
Darling Lili star Julie Andrews had married Edwards in 1969.
Pink Panther film series edit
Edwards also directed most of the comedy film series The Pink Panther, the majority of installments starring Peter Sellers as the inept Inspector Clouseau. The relationship between the director and the lead actor was considered a fruitful yet complicated one with many disagreements during production. At various times in their film relationship, "he more than once swore off Sellers" as too hard to direct. However, in his later years, he admitted that working with Sellers was often irresistible:
We clicked on comedy and we were lucky we found each other because we both had so much respect for it. We also had an ability to come up with funny things and great situations that had to be explored. But in that exploration there would often times be disagreement. But I couldn't resist those moments when we gelled. And if you ask me who contributed most to those things, it couldn't have happened unless both of us were involved, even though it wasn't always happy.
Five of those films involved Edwards and Sellers in original material; those films being The Pink Panther (1963), A Shot in the Dark (1964), The Return of the Pink Panther (1975), The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976), and Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978). (1968's Inspector Clouseau, the third film in the series, was made without the involvement of Edwards or Sellers.) The films were all highly profitable: The Return of the Pink Panther, for example, cost just $2.5 million to make but grossed $100 million, while The Pink Panther Strikes Again did even better.
After Sellers's death in 1980, Edwards directed three further Pink Panther films. Trail of the Pink Panther (1982) consisted of unused material of Sellers from The Pink Panther Strikes Again as well as previously seen material from the earlier films. Curse of the Pink Panther (1983) and Son of the Pink Panther (1993) were further attempts by Edwards to continue the series without Sellers but both films were critical and financial disappointments. Edwards eventually retired from film making two years after the release of Son of the Pink Panther.
In addition to the Pink Panther films, Edwards directed Sellers in the comedy film The Party.
Silent-film style edit
Having grown up in Hollywood, the stepson of a studio production manager and stepgrandson of a silent-film director, Edwards had watched the films of the great silent-era comedians, including Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Laurel and Hardy. He and Sellers appreciated and understood the comedy styles in silent films and tried to recreate them in their work together. After their immense success with the first two Pink Panther films, The Pink Panther (1963) and A Shot in the Dark (1964), which adapted many silent-film aspects, including slapstick, they attempted to go even further in The Party (1968). The film has always had a cult following, and some critics and fans have considered it a "masterpiece in this vein" of silent comedy, though it did include minimal dialogue.
Personal life edit
Edwards married his first wife, actress Patricia Walker, in 1953; they divorced in 1967. Edwards and Walker had two children, actress Jennifer Edwards and actor-writer-director Geoffrey Edwards. Walker appeared in the comedy All Ashore (1953), for which Edwards was one of the screenwriters. Edwards also named one of his film production companies, Patricia Productions, Incorporated, after her.
Edwards's second marriage, from 1969 until his death in 2010, was to Julie Andrews. They were married for 41 years. He was the stepfather to Emma, from Andrews's previous marriage. In the 1970s, Edwards and Andrews adopted two Vietnamese daughters; Amy Leigh (later known as Amelia) in 1974 and Joanna Lynne in 1975.
Death and legacy edit
Edwards was greatly admired, and criticized, as a filmmaker. His critics are alluded to by American film author George Morris:
It has been difficult for many critics to accept Blake Edwards as anything more than a popular entertainer. Edwards' detractors acknowledge his formal skill, but deplore the absence of profundity in his movies. Edwards' movies are slick and glossy, but their shiny surfaces reflect all too accurately the disposable values of contemporary life.
Others, however, recognized him more for his significant achievements at different periods of his career. British film critic Peter Lloyd, for example, described Edwards, in 1971, as "the finest director working in the American commercial cinema at the present time". Edwards's biographers, William Luhr and Peter Lehman, in an interview in 1974, called him "the finest American director working at this time". They refer especially to the Pink Panther's Clouseau, developed with the comedic skills of Peter Sellers as a character "perfectly consistent" with his "absurdist view of the world, because he has no faith in anything and constantly adapts". Critic Stuart Byron calls his first two Pink Panther films "two of the best comedies an American has ever made". Polls taken at the time showed that his name, as a director, was a rare "marketable commodity" in Hollywood.
Edwards himself described one of the secrets to success in the film industry:
For someone who wants to practice his art in this business, all you can hope to do, as S.O.B. says, is stick to your guns, make the compromises you must, and hope that somewhere along the way you acquire a few good friends who understand. And keep half a conscience.
|Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder||No||Yes||No|
|Cruisin' Down the River||No||Yes||No|
|1954||Drive a Crooked Road||No||Yes||No|
|The Atomic Kid||No||Yes||No|
|1955||Bring Your Smile Along||Yes||Yes||No|
|My Sister Eileen||No||Yes||No|
|1956||He Laughed Last||Yes||Yes||No|
|Operation Mad Ball||No||Yes||No|
|1958||This Happy Feeling||Yes||Yes||No|
|The Perfect Furlough||Yes||No||No|
|1961||Breakfast at Tiffany's||Yes||No||No|
|1962||Experiment in Terror||Yes||No||Yes|
|Days of Wine and Roses||Yes||No||No|
|The Notorious Landlady||No||Yes||No|
|1963||Soldier in the Rain||No||Yes||Yes|
|The Pink Panther||Yes||Yes||No|
|1964||A Shot in the Dark||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|1965||The Great Race||Yes||Story||No|
|1966||What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?||Yes||Story||Yes|
|1967||Gunn||Yes||Yes||No||Also executive producer (Uncredited)|
|Waterhole No. 3||No||No||Uncredited|
|1972||The Carey Treatment||Yes||No||No|
|1974||The Tamarind Seed||Yes||Yes||No|
|1975||The Return of the Pink Panther||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|1976||The Pink Panther Strikes Again||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|1978||Revenge of the Pink Panther||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Trail of the Pink Panther||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|1983||Curse of the Pink Panther||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|The Man Who Loved Women||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Micki & Maude||Yes||No||No|
|1986||A Fine Mess||Yes||Yes||No|
|1993||Son of the Pink Panther||Yes||Yes||No|
|1948||Hollywood Star Theatre||No||Yes||No|
|1949-1953||Richard Diamond, Private Detective||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|1949-1962||Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar||No||Yes||No|
|1951||Broadway is My Beat||No||Yes||No|
|1952||Invitation Playhouse: Mind Over Murder||No||Yes||No||No||Episode "The Long Night"|
|1952-1954||Four Star Playhouse||Yes||Yes||No||No||Directed 5 episodes, wrote 9 episodes|
|1954||The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse||Yes||No||No||No||Episode "Death, The Hard Way"|
|City Detective||Yes||No||No||No||Episode "Midnight Supper"|
|The Lineup||No||Yes||No||No||Episode "Cop Killer"|
|1955||The Mickey Rooney Show||Yes||No||No||No||33 episodes|
|The Star and the Story||Yes||No||No||No||Episode "Safe Journey"|
|The Jane Wyman Show||Yes||Yes||No||No||Directed episode "Big Joe's Comin' Home";|
Wrote episode "The Smuggler"
|1956||Ford Television Theatre||No||Yes||No||No||Episode "The Payoff"|
|1957||Studio 57||Yes||Yes||No||No||Directed episode "Big Joe's Comin' Home";|
Wrote episode "The Smuggler"
|Meet McGraw||No||Yes||No||No||Episode "Tycoon"|
|1957-1960||Richard Diamond, Private Detective||No||Yes||No||Yes||4 episodes|
|1958-1961||Peter Gunn||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Directed 10 episodes;|
Wrote 11 episodes
|1959-1960||Mr. Lucky||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Wrote and directed episode "The Magnificent Bribe"|
|1962||The Dick Powell Show||Yes||Story||No||No||Episode "The Boston Terrier"|
|1954||Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer||Yes||Yes||No|
|1995-1999||Victor/Victoria||Yes||Yes||Yes||Broadway production and Broadway tour|
|1999||Big Rosemary||Yes||Yes||Yes||Off-Broadway production, 2004 theatrical workshop, 2008 Broadway preview|
Awards and honors edit
|1982||Academy Awards||Best Adapted Screenplay||Victor/Victoria||Nominated|
|2003||Academy Honorary Award||Received|
|1962||Golden Globe Awards||Best Director||The Days of Wine and Roses||Nominated|
|1959||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series||Peter Gunn||Nominated|
|Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series||Nominated|
In 2004, Edwards received an Honorary Academy Award for cumulative achievements over the course of his film career. As Entertainment Weekly reported, "Honorary Oscar winner Blake Edwards made an entrance worthy of Peter Sellers in one of Edwards' Pink Panther films: A stuntman who looked just like Edwards rode a speeding wheelchair past a podium and crashed through a wall. When the octogenarian director entered and dusted himself off as if he had crashed, he told presenter Jim Carrey, 'Don't touch my Oscar.'" Also in 2004, Edwards received The Life Career Award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, during that year's Saturn Award ceremony.
In 1983, Edwards was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Screenplay for Victor/Victoria as well as winning Best Foreign Film and Best Foreign Screenplay in France and Italy, respectively for Victor/Victoria. In 1988, Edwards received the Creative Achievement Award from the American Comedy Awards. In 1991, Edwards received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1993, Edwards received the Preston Sturges Award jointly from the Directors Guild and the Writers Guild. In 2000, Edwards received the Contribution to Cinematic Imagery Award from the Art Directors Guild. In 2002, Edwards received the Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement from the Writers Guild as well as the Special Edgar from The Mystery Writers of America for career achievement.
Between 1962 and 1968, Edwards was nominated six times for a Golden Laurel Award as Best Director by Motion Picture Exhibitors. In 1963, Edwards was nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Director for Days of Wine and Roses. In 1962, Edwards was nominated for Outstanding Achievement by the Directors Guild for Breakfast at Tiffany's. In 1960, Edwards was nominated for an Edgar for Best Teleplay by the Mystery Writers of America for Peter Gunn. In 1959, Edwards was nominated for two Primetime Emmys as Best Director and Best Teleplay for Peter Gunn Between 1958 and 1983, Edwards was nominated eight times for Best Screenplay by the Writers Guild and won twice, for The Pink Panther Strikes Again and Victor/Victoria.
- "Receiving Honorary Oscar in 2004". Youtube.com. Archived from the original on November 7, 2021. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
- Weiss, Philip (October 1, 1995). "Return of the Punk Panther". The New York Times Magazine.
[...] Edwards's wife, Julie Andrews, said his birthday was the 22nd [...]
- Harmetz, Aljean (December 16, 2010). "Blake Edwards, Prolific Comedy Director, Dies at 88". The New York Times.
- BBC2 program 1987
- "Blake Edwards". The Telegram. London: Telegraph.co.uk. December 16, 2010. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
- Wakeman, John (Ed.) World Film Directors Vol. 2. H.W. Wilson Co. (1988) pp. 302–310
- Byron, Stuart (August 5, 1971). "Confessions of a Cult Figure". Village Voice. p. 56.
- Feiwell, Jill (December 12, 2003). "Life Oscar to Edwards". Daily Variety. Archived from the original on March 29, 2015. Retrieved January 21, 2015 – via HighBeam Research.
- Moody, Mike (December 16, 2010). "Filmmaker Blake Edwards dies, aged 88". Digital Spy. Hachette Filipacchi (UK) Ltd. Retrieved December 16, 2010.
- "Blake Edwards:Old School" Archived December 14, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Directors Guild of America Quarterly, Summer 2009.
- Kehr, Dave. International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers – 2: Directors 3rd Ed. St. James Press (1997) pp. 291–294
- "Clips from The Party". Youtube.com. January 22, 2009. Archived from the original on February 14, 2010. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
- Clifton, Emma (January 18, 2014). "The real-life Trophy Wife". NZHerald. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
- "Los Angeles Evening Citizen News from Hollywood, California on November 28, 1964". Newspapers.com. November 28, 1964. Retrieved June 29, 2021.
- "The Pristine Princess – Adoption, Julie Andrews : People.com". May 2, 2010. Archived from the original on May 2, 2010. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
- Thomas, Kevin (May 30, 2002). "Tarr's 'Harmonies' Is Involving Puzzle". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 6, 2010.
- Luhr, William, and Lehman, Peter. Blake Edwards, Ohio University Press (1981)
- Velvet Light Trap magazine, Fall, 1974
- "Blake Edwards, American director, dies aged 88". BBC News. December 16, 2010. Retrieved December 16, 2010.
- EW Staff (March 1, 2004). "Blake Edwards had a memorable 2004 Oscars moment". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on August 8, 2021. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
- Senses of Cinema: Great Directors Critical Database
- Blake Edwards at IMDb
- Blake Edwards at the TCM Movie Database
- Blake Edwards at AllMovie
- Blake Edwards at the Internet Broadway Database
- Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture – Edwards, Blake
- My Day With Blake Edwards – A Tribute by Steven Ameche