Bert Schneider, who produced the 1960s and 1970s counterculture hits Easy Rider and The Last Picture Show and Five Easy Pieces, died Monday at a hospital in Los Angeles. He was 78.  His daughter Audrey Simon said he had been in failing health. The rebellious son of Columbia Pictures president Abraham Schneider became a key figure in the new golden age of Hollywood when younger directors broke free of studio constraints and made films that celebrated the counterculture of the times. Schneider began his showbiz career at Columbia’s TV unit Screen Gems where he and director Bob Rafelson became partners on The Monkees. The show’s financial success led to greater creative freedom and eventually the seminal film Easy Rider (1969). Schneider produced 10 other movies between 1968 and 1981 including the Oscar-winning anti-Vietnam War documentary Hearts and Minds (1974) and Terence Malick’s Days of Heaven (1978). Schneider is credited with paving the way for directors with a flair for unconventional filmmaking such as George Lucas, George Roy Hill, Paul Mazursky and Sydney Pollack.

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