Fiercely independent film producer dies
Bert Schneider, the producer of such classics as 'Easy Rider,' 'Five Easy Pieces' dies at 78
Fiercely independent, he changed American film forever with some rules-breaking features such as "Easy Rider," "Five Easy Pieces" and "The Last Picture Show." Movie producer Bert Schneider has died at the age of 78.
Fiercely independent, he changed American film forever with some rules-breaking features such as 'Easy Rider,' 'Five Easy Pieces' and 'The Last Picture Show.' Movie producer Bert Schneider has died at the age of 78.
"This was a beginning of the independent movies and, more than that, a kind of celebration of anti-establishment movie subjects," producer-director Bob Rafelson partner said in an interview this week.
"Bert broke with everybody's rules," Rafelson added.
A friend to such political radicals such as Huey Newton and Abbie Hoffman, Schneider produced 11 films between 1968 and 1981, including the Oscar-winning, anti-Vietnam-War documentary "Hearts and Minds" (1974) and the Terrence Malick-directed drama "Days of Heaven" (1978).
A far less controversial - and some would say a far more enjoyable project was Schneider's creation tthe Monkees, the popular made-for-TV rock quartet modeled on the Beatles who starred in their own Emmy-winning sitcom from 1966 to 1968.
It was the success of the Monkees that made financing possible for "Easy Rider," the landmark 1969 film about two motorcyclists in search of a more authentic America that made Jack Nicholson a star.
The movie, directed by the late Dennis Hopper, changed the game in Hollywood. Made for less than $300,000, it grossed $20 million, paving the way for a new wave of American directors, such as Rafelson, George Lucas, George Roy Hill, Paul Mazursky and Sydney Pollack.
Schneider's productions "gave huge impetus to the new Hollywood revolution that turned movies over to directors and created, in my view, the last Hollywood renaissance of great movies," film historian Peter Biskind said this week. "Bert played a crucial role in it."
An iconoclast in movies - and in his personal life, bad luck dogged Schneider later on in life. Beset by long-standing substance abuse issues and a 2007 fire that destroyed his home in Beverly Hills, Schneider was estranged from his children and many of his friends and colleagues in his later years, his family said.
Schneider had been in failing health and died of natural causes Monday at Olympia Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Schneider was married four times. In addition to his daughter, he is survived by a son, Jeffrey, and four grandchildren. A memorial service is being planned.
© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Keywords: bert Schneider, Easy Rider, Monkess, New Hollywood
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