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Bert Schneider dies at 78; 'Easy Rider' producer

The iconoclastic producer of 'Five Easy Pieces,' 'The Last Picture Show' and the Oscar-winning 'Hearts and Minds' helped filmmakers break out of the studio system.

December 14, 2011|By Elaine Woo, Los Angeles Times

Schneider was a deeply committed leftist who helped Black Panthers co-founder Newton escape to Cuba to avoid prosecution on murder charges in 1974. During this period, Schneider also helped support Chicago Eight defendant Hoffman when he went underground after skipping bail on drug charges that he said had been manufactured by the authorities.

Born in New York City on May 5, 1933, Schneider was a Cornell University dropout who later went to work for his father at Screen Gems, the television division of Columbia Pictures. He quit Screen Gems in 1965 to form Raybert Productions with Rafelson.

Beset by personal problems, including long-standing substance abuse 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 was married four times. In addition to his daughter, who lives in Deep River, Conn., he is survived by a son, Jeffrey, of San Anselmo, Calif., and four grandchildren. A memorial service is being planned.

elaine.woo@latimes.com

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