Edwards, the writer-director who gilded Hepburn’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and turned Peter Sellers loose in the original Pink Panther movies, died last night at age 88 of complications from pneumonia. His longtime wife, screen-legend Julie Andrews, was said to have been at his hospital bedside.
Together with composer Henry Mancini, Edwards helped define cool, circa the Mad Men early 1960s.
It was Mancini who wrote “Moon River”; it was Edwards who gave Hepburn the guitar to strum it in Tiffany’s, the iconic 1961 romance. It was Mancini who wrote the Pink Panther theme; it was Edwards who helped Sellers conjure Inspector Clouseau in the 1963 film and its first sequels. And it was Mancini who wrote the evocative title song from Days of Wine and Roses; it was Edwards who let Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick, as husband-and-wife alcoholics in the 1962 Oscar-winner, wring every emotion from it.
Edwards and Andrews, the beloved star of Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, married in 1969.
Just as he had with Mancini, Edwards worked frequently with his wife. The couple’s shared credits included the 1980 hit comedy 10, and Victor/Victoria, the gender-bending 1982 musical that spawned a Broadway show. In Edwards’ 1981 Hollywood comedy, S.O.B., Andrews popped her Mary Poppins persona by flashing her breasts.
For all his classic credits, Edwards never won a competitive Oscar, Emmy or Golden Globe. He was nominated for an Academy Award once, a screenplay nod for Victor/Victoria.
In 2004, he received an honorary Academy Award. Edwards used the occasion to pay tribute to Andrews, calling her “the beautiful English broad with the incomparable soprano and the promiscuous vocabulary.”