Sumner Glimcher 10/25/2013

Sumner Glimcher, Professor Emeritus from NYU, has worked in film, radio and television since he graduated from Harvard with a degree in Nuclear Physics in 1948. He began his career as a page at NBC in New York where, in six years, he worked with many of the greats in the Golden Age of Television; Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner, Neil Simon. He is just completing his memoir: “A Filmmaker’s Journal,” which as an E-Book has embedded in it short excerpts from 22 of his documentaries.

 In talking about his book Sumner stated that his life was a series of accidents including being shot at age 20 during the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, his ability to speak German fluently led him to be involved in prosecuting Nazis and sending them to Nuremburg. He wanted to be a physicist and after being rejected by MIT wound up at Harvard one of 1600 students out of 65,000 that applied. Realizing that Physics wasn’t his thing he got hooked on film and TV. He started making video documentaries about different people, some famous and many not so famous. One of his video portraits was of his mother at age 93. She came to the U.S. in 1900 at the age of 5 and as a young woman she had a boyfriend named Lou Walters. He went on to become the founder of the Copacabana nightclub in NYC and was the father of Barbara Walters who Sumner said could have been his sister.

Over his career Sumner has made 22 video documentaries. He later started the Center for Mass Communication, a subsidiary of the Columbia School of Journalism. As part of that effort he was instrumental in communicating the fact that people with syphilis need to see a doctor to be cured with penicillin. As a result the rate of syphilis plummeted and many lives were saved. Sumner finished up by talking about the advantages of self- publishing using E-Books. When you self publish you get most of the royalties compared to using a publisher.

 During Q&A the following points were made:

  1. The technology of combining video, sound, pictures and text within E-Books is an amazing new technology available to all on the IPAD and the advanced Nook and Kindle.
  2. His book was written solely from memory. He started during WW2 and went back to his childhood. It was tremendous fun reliving chapters of your life and it created a wonderful heritage for his children and grandchildren. Everyone should write their memoirs.