Lumet, Sidney: Private and Social Life–Part 7

A man of magnetic charisma, Sidney Lumet exudes immense warmth and is one of best-liked directors.  Lumet continues to love New York City with all its energy and aura of sophistication: “It never occurred to me that I could live in California.”  But despite international recognition and stature, Lumet is not the flamboyant and conspicuous director one could expect.  A private man, he rarely gives interviews about his life and is not seen on celebrity talk shows.  A witty personality, Lumet is a great conversationalist and omniverous reader.  He likes to work at “white heat, then resting.”  His idea of rest if to “turn off the telephone and read books and listen to music.”

Lumet is a small man, rising to 5 feet and 5 inches and weighing 135 pounds.  Short, spectacled, and not particularly handsome, he projects a youthful energy.  He typically wears a denim shirt, faded blue dungarees, a wind- breaker, and sneakers.    Lumet talks in a fast, piercing way, overwhelming people with his robust vitality.  His energy passes human comprehension.

Lumet eats lightly, smokes heavily, and proudly takes no exercise at all, preferring to pit his legendary stamina against his formidable work schedules: 8 to 6, six days a week when shooting; 9 to 5, five days a week when not. “I cheat,” Lumet admits, “I take 15-minute naps; I trained myself a long time ago in the Army.”

A private person, he divides his time between his Manhattan residence (his Lexington Avenue town house) and his large, old place in East Hampton.  Modest, his 56th Street work loft in New York (behind Carnegie Hall) is sparse in furniture.  Lumet is married for the fourth time to Mary Bailey Gimbel.  He has two teen-age girls by Gail Jones, the daughter of singer Lena Horne.  He was previously married to Gloria Vanderbilt and the actress Rita Gam.