Sidney Lumet Dies at 86
Sidney Lumet, the Oscar-nominated director of such modern classics as Network, 12 Angry Men, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon and The Verdict, has died. He was 86.
Lumet died Saturday morning of lymphoma at his Manhattan home, his stepdaughter, Leslie Gimbel, told The New York Times.
See other celebrities who died this year
A Philadelphia native, Lumet got his start as an Off Broadway director before segueing into TV, directing episodes of Danger, Mama and You Are There.
In 1957, he made his feature film directorial debut with the critically acclaimed 12 Angry Men, an adaptation of the teleplay of the same name about 12 men on a jury who deliberate the guilt and innocence of a defendant based on reasonable doubt. The film earned three Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director for Lumet, who lost to The Bridge on the River Kwai's David Lean.
Lumet earned three more Oscar nominations for Network, Dog Day Afternoon and The Verdict. He was presented with an honorary Oscar in 2005. "I wanted one, damn it, and I felt I deserved one," he later said.
12 Angry Men set the tone for the rest of Lumet's career and style, which focused on stories of social conscience and corruption. 1973's Serpico, starring Al Pacino, centered on power and betrayal in the New York City police and 1975's Dog Day Afternoon, also starring Pacino, told the story of a bank robbery attempt. He returned to the courtroom with 1982's The Verdict, starring Paul Newman as a down-on-his-luck alcoholic lawyer who redeems himself with a malpractice case.
Watch the trailer for Network
But Lumet's most revered work may be Network. The 1976 film, written by Paddy Chayefsky, brilliantly satirizes the going-ons of the fictional UBS network, whose executives exploit Howard Beale (Peter Finch), a bitter and unstable anchor, for their and the network's benefit. Finch's proclamation "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!" is one of cinema's most memorable lines.
Network was nominated for 10 Oscars, winning four, including statuettes for Finch (the first posthumous acting winner), Faye Dunaway and Beatrice Straight, whose nearly six minutes on screen as a betrayed wife remains the shortest Oscar-winning performance. The film tied 1951's A Streetcar Named Desire as the only movies to win three acting Oscars.
Lumet's other credits include Long Day's Journey Into Night, Fail-Safe, Murder on the Orient Express, Equus, The Wiz, Running on Empty and Q&A. In 2001, he returned to TV with the short-lived 100 Centre Street, a one-hour drama about the staff of a New York City courthouse. His last film was 2007's Before the Devil Knows You're Dead.
Lumet was married four times, to actress Rita Gam, Gloria Vanderbilt, Gail Jones — the daughter of Lena Horne — and Mary Gimbel, who survives him. He is also survived by two daughters he had with Jones, Amy Lumet and Jenny Lumet, who wrote Rachel Getting Married; a stepson, Bailey Gimbel; nine grandchildren and a great-grandson.