Thursday, December 16, 2010

R.I.P. Blake Edwards -- 1922 - 2010 -- He Made His Mark in TV, Too

The news that veteran Hollywood producer-writer-director-actor Blake Edwards passed away yesterday brought many different images to mind. Undoubtedly best remembered for his screen comedies like the Pink Panther series (mostly starring Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau), The Great Race, S.O.B., Victor Victoria, and 10 (and of course so many other films, too; be sure to check out his entire credits), Edwards had also been a prolific presence on television in the 1950s and early 1960s. After starting out as an actor in the 1940s then transitioning into behind-the-scenes success, Blake Edwards was instrumental in the production of at least three well-remembered series of the era.

He had a hand in the well-regarded Mr. Lucky series which had a short (34 episodes) but successful run in 1959, short not because it wasn't an audience favorite, but because it lost its sponsor, something that doesn't happen anymore. He also wrote extensively on the Richard Diamond, Private Detective show (best remembered for the presence of Mary Tyler Moore's gams as the legs of Diamond's unseen secretary), and finally hit longer success (3 seasons and 114 episodes) as the creator of the ultra-cool Peter Gunn, starring Craig Stevens in the title role.

Both Mr. Lucky and Peter Gunn benefitted from their popular theme music written by Henry Mancini. Even if you don't remember the programs, you might recall the music, some of the hippest and snazziest TV scores ever written. Here's the end title from Mr. Lucky:

It often takes a death to bring appreciation to talents we've taken for granted, and so it goes with Blake Edwards. It's high time to remember his contributions to television as much as his work in the movies. You might be able to find some of these series online, and I believe Peter Gunn airs on some digital TV channels with classic TV; I'll investigate and post the info. Seek them out -- you will enjoy them.

Update: Fri. 12/18: TCM will be airing five of Blake Edwards' films starting at 8pm Eastern on Monday, December 27th, as follows: 8pm Breakfast at Tiffany's -- Audrey Hepburn unforgettable as Holly Golightly and singing "Moon River", 10pm Days of Wine and Roses -- searing drama with Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick as tragic alcoholics, 12m The Pink Panther -- the first Inspector Clouseau comedy, 2am Victor Victoria -- Julie Andrews, James Garner, Robert Preston and LesleyAnn Warren all delightful in this gender-bending comedy/romance with music, 4:30am Operation Petticoat -- WW II comedy with Cary Grant and Tony Curtis serving on a pink submarine filled with nurses. All are definitely worth catching for an interesting sampling of his many different genres and some great performances under his direction.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Peter Gunn was the best. I also saw the feature film version--which was pretty good, too. A nice reminder of BE's tv work.