Writer and director Blake Edwards, the prolific filmmaker responsible for modern comedies like 'The Pink Panther,' passed away from complications with pneumonia last night at the age of 88, his wife (Julie Andrews) and children at his bedside.

Though he hasn't worked in the business for years, his impact is still felt today. He -- along with actor Peter Sellers -- brought to life 'The Pink Panther,' which spurned a number of sequels and a modern (and inferior) remake led by Steve Martin. But that is just the tip of his impact on Hollywood.

Edwards, born in Tulsa, Oklahoma on July 26, 1922, began his career as an actor. His first job had him playing an uncredited cadet in the 1942 film 'Ten Gentleman From West Point,' but soon Edwards moved on to a long career behind the scenes, kicked off by his work producing and writing 'Panhandle' in 1948. Within ten years, Edwards had become a director, helming successful Hollywood features like the flamboyant and slapstick Tony Curtis/Cary Grant comedy 'Operation Petticoat.' It not only launched his popular career, but also his progressive interests in questioning and exploring sexual and gendered identity in films like 'Skin Deep' and 'Victor/Victoria.'

Having earned Tinseltown's attention and approval, his big break came when John Frankenheimer dropped out of Truman Capote's 'Breakfast at Tiffany's,' the opening giving him the chance to stretch his more dramatic directorial muscles (further stretched with 'Days of Wine and Roses' a year later) while infusing it with the comic metaphors he so loved. And comedy was where he reigned.

Two years after 'Tiffany's' came 'The Pink Panther,' and his penchant for ridiculousness and slapstick laughs increased through the '60s, from reuniting with Curtis for 'The Great Race,' to pulling his 'Pink Panther' star into the psychedelic party crashing of Hrundi Bakshi and 'The Party.' And by 1979, he crafted the iconic image of Bo Derek running on the beach for the hit comedy, '10,' his biggest box office success.

However, though he made a distinct impact on the cinematic world through the '50s,'60s and '70s, and brought in the cash when he mixed Derek with Dudley Moore, it wasn't until 1982 that Edwards earned his only Oscar nomination for Best Writing in the musical that starred his wife Julie Andrews (since 1969) -- 'Victor/Victoria,' the story of a female soprano who gets a job as a male, female impersonator. He did not win the award -- it went to 'Missing' -- but he did, finally, earn a lifetime achievement honor in 2004.

From Birdie Num Nums to the Double Don, today's comedy has much to thank Edwards for, and he is missed. Our condolences go to Julie Andrews and their family.
CATEGORIES Movies, Cinematical