Writer-producer Carol Schreder, who produced landmark telepic “The Burning Bed” and directed a number of documentaries during a more than three-decade career, was killed in a cycling accident on the Mulholland Highway near Kanan Road, in an area near Agoura Hills, Calif., on Dec. 3. Schreder was completing a regular 50-mile ride when she was struck by a passenger van towing a trailer and died that evening at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Hospital. She was 65.
An investigation of the accident by the California Highway Patrol is pending.
Schreder was one of the first female Directing Fellows of the American Film Institute’s Center for Advanced Film Studies, where she made a documentary about aerospace pioneer William Lear, “By the Seat of His Pants.”
In 1978 Steve McQueen hired her to research and write the original treatment for his 1980 Western “Tom Horn.” Schreder produced a number of films for lifelong friend Jon Avnet’s production company, including acclaimed NBC telepic “The Burning Bed” (1985), which starred Farrah Fawcett and directed national attention to the issue of domestic violence. She was also showrunner for ABC’s 1984-85 series “Call to Glory,” about an Air Force family during the 1960s; co-producer of Avnet’s 1986 ABC telepic “Between Two Women,” starring Fawcett and Colleen Dewhurst; and writer-producer of NBC’s 1987 docudrama “In Love and War,” about Medal of Honor recipient Admiral James Stockdale’s heroism as a Prisoner of War in Hanoi.
In 1995 Schreder traveled to South Africa and interviewed Nelson Mandela, witnessing his release from prison firsthand for her work as a writer and a producer on “Apartheid,” an eight-part TNT miniseries developed by Avnet and Jordan Kerner. She also explored human rights issues in CBS’ brief 1998 series “Mama Flora’s Family,” for which she was nominated for a Humanitas Award.
Born in Greenwich, Conn., Schreder received a bachelor’s degree in Chinese Studies from Skidmore College and a Master’s from the USC School of Cinema.
A longtime member of both the Writers Guild of America and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Schreder had returned to the American Film Institute in recent years. As a member of AFI’s 2005 Directing Workshop for Women, she wrote and directed a short film, “A Laying Down of Arms.”
Schreder is survived by her mother; a brother and a sister; and a niece and two nephews. A public memorial service will be held in Santa Monica at the Aero Theatre in January. Donations be made to the Carol Schreder Scholarship Fund at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles.