PEOPLE IN BRIEF: Master of farce, slapstick, Blake Edwards, dies

LOS ANGELES — Blake Edwards, the director and writer known for clever dialogue, poignance and occasional belly-laugh sight gags in ‘‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s,’’ ‘‘10’’ and the ‘‘Pink Panther’’ farces, is dead at age 88.

Edwards died from complications of pneumonia late Wednesday at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, said publicist Gene Schwam. Blake’s wife, Julie Andrews, and other family members were at his side. He had been hospitalized for about two weeks.

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

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,’’ Schwam said. That may have contributed to his condition, he added.

At the time of his death, Edwards was working on two Broadway musicals, one based on the ‘‘Pink Panther’’ movies. The other, ‘‘Big Rosemary,’’ was to be an original comedy set during Prohibition, Schwam said.

‘‘His heart was as big as his talent. He was an Academy Award winner in all respects,’’ said Schwam, who knew him for 40 years.

A third-generation filmmaker, Edwards was praised for evoking classic performances from Jack Lemmon, Audrey Hepburn, Peter Sellers, Dudley Moore, Lee Remick and Andrews, his wife of 42 years.

Actor Robert Wagner credits Edwards with giving him some of the greatest opportunities of his career.

‘‘There won’t be anybody passing by like him again. He was a genius,’’ Wagner said Thursday.

Edwards directed and often wrote a wide variety of movies including ‘‘Days of Wine and Roses,’’ a harrowing story of alcoholism; ‘‘The Great Race,’’ a comedy-adventure that starred Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood; and ‘‘Victor/Victoria,’’ his gender-bender musical comedy with Andrews.