Having emerged during Hollywood's new wave of the late 1960s and early 1970s, iconoclastic producer Bert Schneider was responsible for shepherding some of his time's most heralded classics. After part...
New York, New York, USA
|A Safe Place||1970||Executive Producer||n/a||1|
|Days of Heaven||1978||Producer||n/a||3|
|Hearts and Minds||1974||Producer||n/a||3|
|The Last Picture Show||1971||Executive Producer||n/a||1|
|Drive, He Said||1970||Producer||n/a||3|
|Five Easy Pieces||1969||Executive Producer||n/a||1|
|Easy Rider||1969||Executive Producer||n/a||1|
|Featured in the documentary "Hey, Hey We're the Monkees"|
|First film collaboration with Jack Nicholson, "Easy Rider" in which Nicholson played a supporting role; directed by Dennis Hopper; made for less than $300,000, the film grossed $20 million in box office|
|Executive produced the drama "Five Easy Pieces," starring Nicholson and directed by Rafelson|
|Partly inspired Peter Fonda's character Terry Valentine in the Steven Soderbergh crime drama "The Limey"|
|Early executive producing credit, The Monkees' feature film "Head" directed by Rafelson|
|Produced final film, Michie Gleason's "Broken English"|
|Executive produced the Oscar-winning "The Last Picture Show," directed by Peter Bogdanovich|
|Quit Screen Gems to form Raybert Productions with Bob Rafelson|
|Produced the NBC series "The Monkees," featuring the titular musical group; co-created with Bob Rafelson; made a cameo during an episode that aired in 1968|
|Raised in New Rochelle, NY|
|Produced the Vietnam War documentary "Hearts and Minds"; won the Oscar for Best Documentary, Features; while accepting the Oscar, read a telegram offering "greetings of friendship" from the head of the North Vietnamese delegation to the Paris peace talks,|
|Produced Terrence Malick's romantic drama "Days of Heaven," starring Richard Gere and Sam Shepard|
|After expulsion from Cornell, went to work for his father Abraham at Screen Gems, the television division of Columbia Pictures|
|Produced Nicholson's feature directorial debut "Drive, He Said"|
Born on May 5, 1933 in New York City, Schneider was raised in the suburbs of New Rochelle and later briefly attended Cornell University, only to be kicked out in 1953 due to his rebellious attitude. Luckily, his father Abraham Schneider was the chairman and president of Columbia Pictures, which lead to working for the studio's television division, Screen Gems, in the early 1960s. He quit in 1965 to form Raybert Productions with director Bob Rafelson, with whom he created the pop culture phenomenon, "The Monkees" (NBC, 1966-68), a sitcom about a fictional rock band that spilled over into the recording industry when the members fought to become an actual group that made records and performed live. Thanks to the massive success of both the show and the musical act, Schneider and Rafelson entered the film business as the executive producers of "Head" (1968), a psychedelic adventure starring The Monkees, co-written by actor Jack Nicholson under the influence of LSD. The result was an absurd, plotless stream-of-consciousness comedy that ticked off Monkees fans and failed at the box office, yet acquired a cult following years later.
Undeterred by "Head," Schneider and Rafelson produced the landmark road movie, "Easy Rider" (1969), which starred Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper as two hippies who traverse the American landscape on their custom motorcycles after scoring with a major cocaine sale. Along the way, they pick up a drunken ACLU lawyer (Nicholson) after a night in jail, only to encounter the harsh reality of losing their idealism amidst trying to achieve the American Dream. Hailed as a masterpiece in avant-garde filmmaking, "Easy Rider" was a box office smash and heralded the golden age of New Hollywood alongside "Bonnie & Clyde" (1967) and "The Graduate" (1967), while turning the unknown Nicholson into a bona fide star. From there, Schneider produced the Rafelson-directed drama, "Five Easy Pieces" (1970), which starred Nicholson as a disaffected oil rig worker who reluctantly returns home to his more cultured hometown, only to find both worlds in conflict with each other. The moody drama solidified Nicholson's standing as a rising star, while it earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. The following year, he produced Nicholson's directorial debut, "Drive, He Said" (1971), a rather confusing and downbeat look about a basketball star (William Tepper) whose antics in the bedroom finally catch up to him.
Working this time with director Peter Bogdanovich, Schneider executive produced another New Hollywood masterpiece, "The Last Picture Show" (1971), a coming of age drama set in a small Texas town during the early 1950s that focused on two football stars (Jeff Bridges and Timothy Bottoms) forced to re-examine their futures when the town's movie theater closes down. Shot in stark black and white, "The Last Picture Show" was hailed by critics and earned eight Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture. After executive producing the forgettable experimental psychodrama "A Safe Place" (1971), starring Nicholson and Tuesday Weld, Schneider turned to documentaries with "Hearts and Minds" (1974), a searing chronicle of the Vietnam War that juxtaposed the striking images from the war with the often ignorant words of American politicians and military leaders. The film drew polarized critical reviews for its one-sided point of view, but that did not stop it from winning Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards. He caused a bit of a stir by reading a congratulatory telegram from the Vietcong delegation at the Paris peace talks, which forced host Bob Hope to issue a disclaimer read by Frank Sinatra, who allegedly nearly came to blows with Schneider back stage.
Schneider went on to produce the cheap action flick "White Line Fever" (1975) and the made-for-TV documentary, "The Gentleman Tramp" (1976), which strung together clips from the career of silent movie star Charlie Chaplin. Following the moody Vietnam drama, "Tracks" (1976), starring Dennis Hopper, Schneider produced one last great film, "Days of Heaven" (1978), Terrence Malick's spectacular rural period drama about a lonely wheat harvester (Richard Gere), whose life becomes intertwined with three itinerant workers from Chicago. Schneider called it a career after producing "Broken English" (1981), a rather dated romantic drama about a white woman (Beverly Roberts) who runs afoul of her friends and family after marrying a black man (Jacques Martial). Tired of working in Hollywood, he went on to spend the next 30 years of his life battling various political causes as well as his own personal demons in the form of long-standing substance abuse. Off the radar for a period of time, he emerged to partake in the documentary, "Hey, Hey, We're the Monkees" (1997), and was allegedly the model for Peter Fonda's character, Terry Valentine, in Steven Soderbergh's crime thriller, "The Limey" (1999). Schneider married four times and saw his Beverly Hills home burn to the ground in 2007. Following years of declining health, he died of natural causes on Dec. 12, 2011 at 78 years old.
By Shawn Dwyer
|Candice Bergen||Companion||Together from 1971-74|
|Abraham Schneider||Father||Ran Columbia Pictures in the late 1960s|
|Judy Schneider||Wife||Married on Dec. 25, 1954; Separated in February 1971; Divorced|
|Stanley Schneider||Brother||Older; deceased|
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