Acad loves the man behind Inspector Clouseau and 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'

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Why Blake Edwards? Why not.

The “Pink Panther” guru has delivered nearly 50 films in 50 years. And while several of his pics have amassed multiple Oscar nominations, he has yet to take home a statue.

That will change Sunday when the man who gave us “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “The Pink Panther,” “S.O.B” and “The Great Race” will receive an honorary Oscar. (He was nommed once for penning “Victor/Victoria.”)

The 81-year-old multihyphenate says the best part about getting his own statuette is that he “won’t have to envy Julie anymore,” referring to Julie Andrews, his wife of 37 years, who won the 1964 actress Academy Award for “Mary Poppins.”

But seriously, folks, “It makes me smile just to think about what the night will be like. Though, I must admit part of me thinks they are trying to tell me something here, like maybe I have been around too long.”

Acad prexy Frank Pierson says Edwards was tapped because “he has had an extraordinary career writing, directing and producing mainly his own material, and that puts him in a select and very small group of outstanding filmmakers.”

Edwards began his showbiz career as an actor in 1942 with “Ten Gentlemen From West Point,” but he was born into the industry. His grandfather was silent-screen helmer J. Gordon Edwards and his father, Jack McEdward, was a production manager. (His grandfather had changed the family name, but his father reverted to McEdward, something Blake didn’t continue.)

Nearly two dozen films and six years later, Edwards ditched acting for a writing and producing career. He ventured in front of the camera one last time in 1948 for a pic that he co-penned with John Champion — “Panhandle,” which he also produced. Lesley Selander helmed it as well as Edwards’ follow-up writing job, “Stampede” (1949).

From 1947-55, Edwards dabbled in radio, creating and writing a slew of series including “Richard Diamond: Private Detective,” “Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar” and “The Lineup.”

“Radio was my education for writing,” he says. “It’s where I was trained, and it was also where I learned to hate the deadline. We did so many shows a week; it was always a down to the finish line kind of pace, and I have never rid myself of that. I still wait until the last minute.”

Not long after he left radio, he made his helming debut in 1955 with Col pic “Bring Your Smile Along.”

He ventured into the TV realm in 1958 long enough to spawn two skeins: “Peter Gunn,” starring Craig Stevens, and “Mr. Lucky,” starring John Vivyan. It was here that Edwards first teamed with composer Henry Mancini.

Edwards and Mancini went on to collaborate on projects including “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” in 1961, for which Mancini garnered two Oscars.

Mancini collected his third Oscar (with Leslie Bricusse) for another Edwards pic, 1982’s “Victor/Victoria.” Overall, pic received seven noms, including screenplay and acting.

During the course of his own career, Edwards proved as versatile as any working helmer, directing thrillers (“The Carey Treatment”) as well as musicals (“Darling Lili”).

Still, Edwards says he considers his writing ability to be reward enough. “It’s what pleases me the most; it’s what aided and abetted my career. No matter how many films I have directed, I was and always will be a writer first.”

Edwards’ Filmography

1993 “Son of the Pink Panther” (W, D)
1991 “Switch” (W, P, D)
1989 “Peter Gunn” (W, P, D) telepic
1989 “Skin Deep” (W, P, D)
1988 “Justin Case” (W, P, D) telepic
1987 “Sunset” (W, D) 1 nom
1987 “Blind Date” (D)
1986 “That’s Life” (W, D) 1 nom
1985 “A Fine Mess” (W, P, D)
1984 “Micki & Maude” (D)
1983 “The Man Who Loved Women” (D)
1983 “Curse of the Pink Panther” (W, P, D)
1982 “Trail of the Pink Panther” (W, P, D)
1981 “Victor/Victoria” (W, P, D) 7 noms, 1 win
1980 “S.O.B.” (W, P, D)
1979 “10” (W, P, D) 2 noms
1978 “Revenge of the Pink Panther” (W, P, D)
1976 “The Pink Panther Strikes Again” (W, P, D) 1 nom
1975 “The Return of the Pink Panther” (W, P, D)
1973 “The Tamarind Seed” (W, D)
1972 “The Carey Treatment” (D)
1971 “Wild Rovers” (W, P, D)
1969 “Darling Lili” (W, P, D) 3 noms
1968 “The Party” (W, P, D)
1967 “Gunn” (W, P, D)
1967 “Waterhole No. 3″ (P)
1966 “What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?” (W, P, D)
1965 “The Great Race” (W, D) 5 noms, 1 win
1964 “A Shot in the Dark” (P, D)
1963 “The Pink Panther” (W, D) 1 nom
1963 “Soldier in the Rain” (W, P)
1962 “Days of Wine and Roses” (D) 5 noms, 1 win
1962 “Experiment in Terror” (D, P)
1962 “The Notorious Landlady” (W)
1961 “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (D) 5 noms, 2 wins
1960 “High Time” (D) 1 nom
1959 “Operation Petticoat” (D) 1 nom
1958 “Peter Gunn” (W, P, D) TV series
1958 “The Perfect Furlough” (W, D)
1958 “This Happy Feeling” (W, D)
1957 “Operation Mad Ball” (W)
1956 “Mister Cory” (W, D)
1955 “He Laughed Last” (W, D)
1955 “My Sister Eileen” (W)
1955 “Bring Your Smile Along” (W, D)
1954 “Drive a Crooked Road” (W)
1953 “Cruisin’ Down the River” (W)
1952 “All Ashore” (W)
1952 “Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder” (W)
1952 “Sound Off” (W)
1948 “Stampede” (W, P)
1947 “Panhandle” (W, P, D, A)

Key: W= writer, P= producer, D= director, A = actor

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