The critically-acclaimed filmmaker passed away on Saturday morning (09Apr11) at his New York home after a battle with lymphoma.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to actor/director Baruch Lumet and dancer Eugenia, he began his career as a child actor, appearing in a number of Broadway plays, including 1935’s Dead End and The Eternal Road.
He made his movie debut at the age of 11, in Yiddish short film Papirossen, but halted his acting dreams to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II.
Upon his return, he became involved in Off-Broadway productions as a director, before turning his attentions to TV in the 1950s.
Lumet’s extensive small screen credits include hit series Danger, Mama and You Are There, which starred a young Walter Cronkite.
But it was his movie work which really grabbed critics’ attention – his first film, 12 Angry Men (1957), featured Henry Fonda as a courageous court juror who manages to convince the panel the defendant on trial for murder is innocent.
Social issues and the topic of morality were key to Lumet’s work and he is perhaps best known for 1976 satire Network. The movie, starring William Holden, Peter Finch and Faye Dunaway, garnered a whopping 10 Oscar nominations, including honours for Best Film and Best Director. Network was awarded gold in four categories, with Finch taking Best Actor and Dunaway Best Actress.
He also directed 1962 drama A View From the Bridge, based on the play by Arthur Miller, and Long Day’s Journey Into Night, which earned Katharine Hepburn an Oscar nod.
Lumet’s other works included Agatha Christie crime classic Murder on the Orient Express in 1974, and he created a fantasy version of his beloved New York for his 1978 musical The Wiz, starring Michael Jackson and Diana Ross. The picture, a take on The Wizard of Oz, was a departure from Lumet’s cutting-edge style of filmmaking and was a critical and commercial flop.
His films received a total of 40 Academy Award nominations throughout his career, and his leading stars included Marlon Brando, Paul Newman and Christopher Reeve.
Lumet was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Oscar in 2005.
He is survived by his fourth wife, Mary Gimbel, two daughters, nine grandchildren, and a great grandson.