Berton Jerome Schneider
May 5, 1933
New York, New York, U.S.
|Died||December 12, 2011 (aged 78)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Alma mater||Cornell University|
|Spouse(s)||Judith Feinberg (divorced); three subsequent marriages|
Early life and education
Schneider was born to a wealthy Jewish family in New York City and raised in New Rochelle, New York. His father was Abraham Schneider who succeeded Harry Cohn as the president of Columbia Pictures. He was the middle of two brothers, the younger Harold and the elder Stanley. Schneider tended toward the rebellious politics of the day. Briefly a student at Cornell University, located in Ithaca, New York, he was ultimately expelled.
His brother, Harold Schneider, also became a film producer.
In 1953, he worked for Screen Gems, Columbia's television division in Los Angeles. In 1965, Schneider formed a partnership with the film director Bob Rafelson, creating Raybert Productions. The duo brought to television The Monkees (1966–1968), a situation comedy about a fictional rock band (who became a real group, The Monkees, to meet public demand, and their own aspirations).
The success of The Monkees allowed Schneider and Rafelson to break into feature films, first with the counterculture film Head (1968), starring The Monkees, directed by Rafelson and featuring a screenplay co-written by Rafelson and Jack Nicholson. The film bombed in its initial release due to poor distribution and the lack of a target audience for 1968. Monkees fans were disappointed that the disjointed, stream-of-consciousness ring of stories was not just an expanded episode. Art film enthusiasts may have embraced its creativity but were not interested in a film by the "pre-fab four."  In recent years, the film has received above average reviews from critics and fans alike as an interesting 1960s period piece.
They had their first major success with Easy Rider (1969), which ushered in the era of New Hollywood. Then followed with the drama film Five Easy Pieces (1970), which Rafelson directed. Following Five Easy Pieces, Schneider and Rafelson added a partner, Stephen Blauner, and Raybert turned into BBS Productions.
They subsequently made a series of films, including the drama films The Last Picture Show (1971), directed by Peter Bogdanovich and The King of Marvin Gardens (1972), directed by Rafelson. In 1975 he was a member of the jury at the 9th Moscow International Film Festival.
Academy Award controversy
In 1975, Schneider received an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for producing Hearts and Minds (1974), a documentary film about the Vietnam War, directed by Peter Davis. His acceptance speech was one of the most politically controversial in the ceremony's history. Schneider's speech included this statement: "It’s ironic that we’re here at a time just before Vietnam is about to be liberated." He then read a telegram from the head of the North Vietnamese delegation to the Paris peace talks. It thanked the antiwar movement "for all they have done on behalf of peace. Greetings of friendship to all American people." After receiving thousands of angry telegrams backstage, Frank Sinatra appeared later in the show to read a disclaimer that disavowed Schneider's statement, which in turn provoked angry responses from actors Shirley MacLaine and Warren Beatty. Beatty later berated Sinatra on stage, calling him "you old Republican."
Personal life and death
In 1954, he married his first wife, Judy Feinberg (born 1936), who was also Jewish and from a wealthy family. They had two children: Jeffrey and Audrey. They later divorced and he was subsequently married three more times.
In popular culture
Filmography and television work
|1966–1968||The Monkees||television situation comedy|
|1969||Easy Rider||road film||producer|
|1970||Five Easy Pieces||drama film|
|1971||The Last Picture Show||drama film|
|1971||Drive, He Said||drama film|
|1971||A Safe Place||drama film|
|1972||The King of Marvin Gardens||drama film|
|1974||Hearts and Minds||documentary film|
|1978||Days of Heaven||drama film|
|1981||Broken English||drama film|
- Elaine Woo (2011-12-14). "Bert Schneider obituary: 'Easy Rider' producer dies at 78". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
- Biskind, Peter Easy Riders Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-And Rock 'N Roll Generation Saved Hollywood ISBN 9780684857084 - ISBN 0684857081 - Publisher: Simon & Schuster - Publish Date: April 1999 p.55
- "Bert Scneider". London: The Telegraph. 2011-12-14. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
- Ronald Bergan (2011-12-14). "Bert Schneider obituary". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
- "R.I.P. Bert Schneider". Deadline.com. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
- "Head (1968)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
- "9th Moscow International Film Festival (1975)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2013-01-04.
- Anita Gates (2011-12-13). "Bert Schneider, Producer Whose Films Reflected an Era, Dies at 78". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
- "Politics and Oscar Night". The Nation. 2013-02-25. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
- The Independent: "Bert Schneider: Film producer at the epicentre of the 'New Hollywood'" by John Riley 02 January 2012
- Barnes, Mike (2011-12-13). "Bert Schneider, Producer of Counterculture Film Classics, Dies at 78". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
- Gates, Anita (2011-12-15). "'Easy Rider' and 'Hearts and Minds' producer Bert Schneider dies at 78". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on 2012-07-08. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
- "Bert Schneider". Telegraph. London. 2011-12-14. Retrieved 2013-11-05.