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Richard Schmiechen; Won Oscar for 1984 Documentary on Harvey Milk

April 10, 1993

Richard Schmiechen, who won an Academy Award for the best feature documentary of 1984, "The Times of Harvey Milk," has died at age 45.

Schmiechen died Wednesday at Midway Hospital in Los Angeles of AIDS, according to his longtime companion and partner in the New York-based independent film company Intrepid Productions.

The documentary about the life and 1978 assassination of the openly gay San Francisco Supervisor Milk by a former supervisor also won two Emmys, a Peabody and the New York Film Critics Circle awards. Schmiechen and San Francisco director Robert Epstein solicited members of gay and lesbian organizations to raise money for the $300,000 film.

Schmiechen's 1992 documentary "Changing Our Minds: The Story of Dr. Evelyn Hooker" was also nominated for an Academy Award this spring. That film described the work in the 1950s of the psychologist who first challenged the belief that homosexuality was a mental illness.

Schmiechen's latest production was TNT's "The Portrait," starring Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall.

Born July 10, 1947, in St. Louis, Schmiechen grew up in Pekin, Ill., and was educated at Grinnell College in Iowa and the film school of Columbia College in Chicago. He was chairman of the board of the Assn. of Independent Filmmakers and a board member of the Independent Television Service.

Survivors include two brothers and a sister.

Memorial contributions can be made to the San Francisco International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival through the Frameline/Richard Schmiechen Fund, 346 9th St., San Francisco, Calif. 94103.

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