Blake Edwards (born William Blake Crump, 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 screenplays and radio scripts before turning to producing and directing in film and television. His best-known films include Breakfast at Tiffany's, Days of Wine and Roses, and the hugely successful Pink Panther film series with British comedian Peter Sellers. Often thought of as primarily a director of comedies, he also directed dramas and detective films. Late in his career, he transitioned to writing, producing, and directing for theater. 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 step-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 the Village Voice in 1971, he said that he had "always felt alienated, estranged from my own father, Jack McEdwards". After attending grammar and high school in Los Angeles, he began taking jobs as an actor during World War II. Edwards served in the United States Coast Guard during World War II where he experienced a severe back injury, which left him in pain for years afterwards. 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, a sitcom about a young studio page trying to become a serious actor. 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 1959 TV series Peter Gunn,which starred Craig Stevens, with music by Henry Mancini. In the same year Edwards produced, with Mancini's musical theme, Mr. Lucky, an adventure series onCBS starring John Vivyan and Ross Martin. Mancini's association with Edwards continued in his film work, significantly contributing to their success. In 2003, Edwards received an Honorary Academy Award for cumulative achievements over the course of his film career. Having grown up in Hollywood, the son of a studio production manager and grandson 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. Both he and Sellers appreciated and understood the comedy styles in silent-films and tried to recreate it 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). Although the film is relatively unknown, some have considered it a "masterpiece in this vein" of silent comedy, even though it included minimal dialogue. Edwards, the step-grandson of prolific silent-film director J. Gordon Edwards, married his first wife, actress Patricia Walker, in 1953. They had two children, and divorced in 1967. She appeared in the comedy All Ashore (1953), for which Edwards was one of the screenwriters. Edwards' second marriage from 1969 until his death was to Julie Andrews. Andrews had a daughter from her previous marriage, and the couple adopted two orphans from Vietnam in the early 1970s, Amelia Leigh and Joanna Lynne. Andrews appeared in a number of his films, including Darling Lili, 10, Victor Victoria and the autobiographical satire S.O.B., in which Andrews played a character who was a caricature of herself. In 1995, he wrote the book for the stage musical adaptation ofVictor/Victoria, also starring Andrews. Edwards described his struggle with the illness chronic fatigue syndrome for 15 years in the documentary I Remember Me (2000). On December 15, 2010, Edwards died of complications of pneumonia at the Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California. His wife and children were at his side. His death came after 15 years of suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome and depression. 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' 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 early 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.