We lost several unique people this past week, including:Sidney Lumet: Mr. Lumet passed away Saturday morning in Manhattan at the age of 86. Born in Philadelphia, his Polish born father was an actor in the Yiddish theatre, and young Sidney appeared with him on Yiddish stages, and then, on and off Broadway. At age 5, he was a kid in Dead End, which later spawned the Dead End Kids. He also appeared in plays with Molly Picon. In 1940, he played a young 15 year old Jesus on stage in Journey to Jerusalem to rave reviews.
Lumet was a TV, stage and film director. As a film director, his thoughtful films, many about redemption, garnered 40 Oscar nominations and included, “12 Angry Men” (1957), about a pressure filled jury room; “The Pawnbroker” (1964), the story of a Holocaust survivor, played by Rod Steiger, who must decide, after the horrors he live through, whether to react to new crimes, or remain silent; “Fail-Safeâ€ (1964), a frightening cold war film about nuclear war; “Bye Bye Braverman” (1968), about very average NYC Jewish intellectuals (or “street Jews” as he termed them) gathering to mourn a dead colleague; “Network” (1976) based on a story by Paddy Chayefsky, about a TV anchorman who, sensing hypocrisy around him, shouts about how he is mad as Hell; “Dog Day Afternoon,” about a Brooklyn bank robbery gone wrong; “The Verdict” (1982) starring Paul Newman; “Serpico,” a story of NYC police corruption; “The Wiz” (1978); and “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” (2007) which starred Ethan Hawke an Philip Seymour Hoffman.
One of Lumet’s daughters, Jenny Lumet, wrote the film, “Rachel Getting Married.” She is one of two children he had with journalist Gail Jones Lumet Buckley, the daughter of Lena Horne. One of Lumet’s four wives was Gloria Vanderbilt, the mother of CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
You can watch a video clip of some of the famous scenes he created an directed and his video epitaph HERE.Ann Loeb Bronfman:
Ann Loeb Bronfman, 78, passed away in Washington DC. Ms. Bronfman, a resident of Mackinac Island and Washington DC, was a philanthropist and leader. Descended from the storied “Our Crowd” American German Jewish dynasties of both the Loeb and the Lehman families, she was married to Edgar Bronfman, Sr., a leader of Seagram’s and the World Jewish Congress, for two decades. She was one of the leaders who resurrected the now popular Washington DC-JCC.
Dr. Baruch (Barry) Blumberg, 85, saved millions of lives. A recipient of the Nobel Prize for Medicine, he passed away this week after giving a keynote astrobiology speech at a NASA conference at the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field. A biochemist and medical anthropologist, he discovered the hepatitis B virus, and then co-created, with Irving Millman, the first “cancer vaccine” to fight it. As a child, he attended the Yeshiva of Flatbush, Brooklyn. In his 2002 autobiography, Hepatitis B: The Hunt for a Killer Virus, he wrote that his fascination with disease and inherited variations began during his volunteer work in northern Surinam. The descendants of Africans, Djukas, Indians, Javanese, Chinese and even a smattering of Jews reacted differently to viruses.
U.S. Congressman John Adler died suddenly at the age of 51 from a bacterial infection. Adler lost his own father as a high school student when his father passed away in his late forties. Adler represented the area of Cherry Hill, NJ and its Philadelphia suburbs up until the 2010 election when he lost to a former NFL Eagles football lineman. Adler was a tireless worker for causes that aided New Jersey residents and Israel, and was a regular at the Katz JCC. A graduate of Harvard and Harvard Law School, he was a partner at Greenberg Traurig. Over 1,400 people attended his funeral at Temple Emanuel in Cherry Hill. At the funeral, his brother-in-law, Steven Levitan, a co-creator of the TV series, Modern Family, made a moronic joke, but then recalled the time that Adler was accepted as a contestant on Jeopardy! As he waited to record the game, he was asked whether he knew anyone who worked for ABC-TV. Adler responded that he went to Harvard Law School with an attorney who worked for the network, but they had not spoken in over two decades. He was disqualified. He was truthful in LA, a place not known for complete honesty. He embodied the Pirke Avot, in that where there are people not so truthful, strive to be truthful.
May their families and friends be comforted and May we learn from their lives