Director Sidney Lumet Passes Away at 86
Legendary director Sidney Lumet, the man behind such classic films as 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, and Network, passed away Saturday morning in his Manhattan home at the age of 86. The cause of death was lymphoma.
Sidney Lumet was a technical genius known for his ability to get Oscar-worthy performances out of his actors. A thick social commentary runs throughout the late director's oeuvre, as he was an artist whose life goal was to examine the consequences of prejudice, corruption, and betrayal. Often compared to his contemporary Martin Scorsese, Sidney directed more than forty movies in his lifetime, most of which were set in New York City.
Lumet began his career as an actor on Broadway at a very young age, appearing alongside such icons as Yul Brynner and Eli Wallach. He made his stage directing debut in 1955, and then went onto direct for CBS, helming numerous episodes of both Danger and You Are There.
He made his directorial debut with the 1957 classic 12 Angry Men, which was nominated for Best Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay Oscars. He would later direct the late Marlon Brando in The Fugitive Kind, and made a name for himself throughout the 60s with films such as Fail-Safe and A Long Day's Journey Into Night.
He found great commercial success in 1973 and 1975 with Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon, two films that propelled Al Pacino to stardom, and the later of which garnered six Academy Award nominations. It is perhaps his 1976 masterpiece Network that is most remembered, having won four Academy Awards for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress. His very next project was The Wiz, which reimagined the The Wizard of Oz with an all-black cast. The movie was a substantial bomb, proving that Sidney Lumet wasn't prefect.
The director continued working throughout the last three decades, directing modest hits like Power and Running on Empty. His last appearance as an actor was in the 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate, and his last film was 2007's Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, which starred Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke.
Though his films had won numerous Academy Awards, Sidney Lumet himself never received one for directing. In 2005, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented him with an Honorary Award.
Sidney Lumet is survived by his wife since 1980, Mary Gimbel, his stepdaughter Leslie Gimbel, his two daughters Amy Lumet and Jenny Lumet, his stepson Bailey Gimbel, nine grandchildren and a great grandson.