Guess Hollywood has forgiven Blake Edwards for ”S.O.B.” The director of that 1981 take-no-prisoners Hollywood satire, as well as such memorable films as ”Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” ”10,” and the ”Pink Panther” movies, will be receiving an honorary Oscar in February, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Thursday. The 81-year-old writer-director, who has never won an Oscar (he was nominated in 1983 for the screenplay of ”Victor/Victoria”), will be cited ”in recognition of his writing, directing, and producing an extraordinary body of work for the screen,” the Academy said.
Edwards, who got his start in Hollywood as an actor before switching to writing and directing, had his first major success in TV as the creator of the stylish 1950s detective series ”Peter Gunn.” (The show’s jazzy instrumental signature marked Edwards’ first collaboration with composer Henry Mancini, who would write similarly indelible music for ”Tiffany’s” and ”Pink Panther.”) In the 1960s, he made hit movies in a number of genres, including thrillers (”Experiment in Terror”) and domestic dramas (”Days of Wine and Roses”), but he became best known for slapstick comedies – many of them, like the ”Panther” series, starring Peter Sellers. The 1970s and 1980s saw him create a number of popular sex farces, notably, ”10” (which made stars of Dudley Moore and Bo Derek), the gender-bending ”Victor/Victoria” (like many of his movies, it starred Julie Andrews, his wife since 1969), and ”Skin Deep” (remembered for John Ritter’s performance and that notorious glow-in-the-dark condom sequence).
In the mid-’90s, he developed ”Victor/Victoria” into a successful Broadway musical for Andrews. Edwards hasn’t directed a movie since 1993’s ”Son of the Pink Panther,” one of his many ill-fated attempts to continue the franchise after Sellers’ death, this one starring an actor then little-known in America, Roberto Benigni. Still, the Inspector Clouseau character lives on, and Edwards will receive a writing credit for the upcoming ”Birth of the Pink Panther,” which will star Steve Martin as the klutzy French detective. Edwards will receive his statuette at the 76th annual Academy Awards on Feb. 29.