Director Blake Edwards of 'Pink Panther' dies

SANTA MONICA, Calif. Edwards died of complications from pneumonia on Wednesday night at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica. His wife of 41 years, actress Julie Andrews, and other family members were at his side.

Edwards had knee problems, had undergone unsuccessful procedures and was "pretty much confined to a wheelchair for the last year-and-a-half or two," publicist Gene Schwam said. That may have contributed to his condition, he added.

During his long career, Edwards put his stamp on nearly 50 films. He worked in radio and television, but he seemed to be made for movies.

Edwards was given an honorary Academy Award in 2004 for his body of work, which not only included the broad comedies like "Pink Panther" and "Victor/Victoria," but also more serious films like "Days of Wine and Roses."

He was also known for an independent spirit that brought clashes with studio bosses. He vented his disdain for the Hollywood system in his 1981 black comedy, "S.O.B."

"I was certainly getting back at some of the producers of my life," he once remarked, "although I was a good deal less scathing than I could have been. The only way I got to make it was because of the huge success of `10,' and even then they tried to sabotage it."

Edwards also got to work with the love of his in both "Victor/Victoria" and "S.O.B."

"He was the most unique man I have ever known -- and he was my mate. He will be missed beyond words and will forever be in my heart," Andrews said in a statement.

Edwards is survived by five children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

At the time of his death, Edwards was working on two Broadway musicals, one based on the "Pink Panther" movies.

On Thursday, Flowers were placed on Edwards' star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Edwards' publicist said a private memorial is planned, but a public service would be scheduled after the New Year.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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