Bernard Schwartz

Film, television producer

Bernard Schwartz, film and television producer, died Oct. 17 in Los Angeles of complications due to a stroke. He was 85.

Schwartz was the producer of 1980 Loretta Lynn biopic “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which earned the Golden Globe for musical/comedy and an Oscar nomination for best picture for the Loretta Lynn biopic.

Schwartz was born in Manhattan and as a boy appeared with his brother in Broadway shows. During World War II, he fought in the Battle of the Bulge and served as a medic in Gen. George Patton’s Third Army.

In 1957, industrialist and film mogul Howard Hughes hired Schwartz, through their mutual associate Greg Bautzer, and he moved to L.A. to take charge of Hughes’ film businesses.

For Hughes’ companies, he oversaw the production of TV series including “One Step Beyond” and “The Wackiest Ship in the Army.” His film producing credits include “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” “A Cold Wind in August,” “I Passed for White,” the Bob Hope comedy “Global Affair,” “The Shuttered Room” and “Jennifer on My Mind.”

In the 1970s, he produced blaxploitation films for United Artists and Universal such as “Hammer,” “That Man Bolt” and “Bucktown,” all with Fred Williamson and Pam Grier.

In 1978, he convinced Universal to try a film based on Lynn’s life, and campaigned for lesser-known actress Sissy Spacek to star, although the studio wanted to hire better-known thesp. Spacek won the actress Oscar for her portrayal.

Also through a request from Greg Bautzer, he turned down the chance to run United Artists for financier Kirk Kerkorian, preferring to stay with creative producing.

The success of “Coal Miner’s Daughter” led Schwartz to pursue a project about the life of country singer Patsy Cline. He interviewed her friends and family members in Tennessee, and produced “Sweet Dreams,” with Jessica Lange and Ed Harris, in 1985.

Two years later, he worked with Priscilla Presley to produce a TV mini based on her autobiography “Elvis and Me.”

He also produced “Psycho II” and “St. Elmo’s Fire” in the 1980s. Recently, he had been working with producer Richard Zanuck on a remake of “Journey to the Center of the Earth” as well as pitching an updated musical film of “Damn Yankees.”

He is survived by his wife Suzanne, son Robert, an entertainment lawyer, another son, a daughter-in-law and a grandson.

Services will be Monday at 1 p.m. at Hillside Memorial Park in Los Angeles. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.

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