×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Ex-Col titan Schneider dies

Abe Schneider, ex-chair and prexy of Columbia Pictures, died in Palm Springs, Fla., Wednesday of pneumonia and Alzheimer’s disease complications. He would have have been 88 Sunday.

Schneider worked his entire career at Columbia Pictures, where he rose from office boy to president.

Born in New York City in 1905, Abraham Schneider graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1922.

Soon after, he began his career as an office boy with the org that was known alternately as the C.B.C. Film Sales Co. or Cohn, Brandt & Cohn.

Schneider worked out of a single room at 1600 Broadway with brothers Harry and Jack Cohn, Joe Brandt and a few other employees. While working, he studied nights at New York University (where he eventually earned a Bachelor of Commercial Science degree).

In 1924, the Cohn brothers and Brandt created Columbia out of the partnership.

Schneider progressed to bookkeeping operations and was becoming well-versed in the business of movies.

In 1929 — when Columbia became a publicly owned corporation — Schneider began playing a major part in administering the company’s financial affairs.

Named treasurer

By 1932, Schneider was treasurer of the company and became a director. In 1943, he added VP to his title and, in 1956, was promoted to first VP and treasurer.

After the death of Jack Cohn later that year, Schneider was also designated chief fiscal officer, a position he held until after the death of company president Harry Cohn, on Feb. 27, 1958.

Less than two weeks later, Schneider was named company president and, as Daily Variety reported at the time, he became part of a special committee made up of five board members who would “report their recommendations for production and administrative heads to the full board for final action.”

In September 1959, Schneider also assumed duties as president of Screen Gems, company’s television film subsidiary.

Ascends to chairman

Schneider became Columbia chairman and chief executive officer in 1968, the year before the Screen Gems telefilmery affiliate was reabsorbed and the company was renamed Columbia Pictures Industries. He became honorary chairman in the 1973 management change.

Schneider was a member of the board of directors from March 1929 until April 1975, four years after a heart condition had severely limited his business activities.

His retirement came only three weeks before his 70th birthday, on April 25, after slightly more than half a century of affiliation with the studio.

A company spokesman said: “For four decades, Abe Schneider was the heart and soul of Columbia.”

Schneider’s friend and ex-colleague Gordan Stulberg (now chairman of the board of Philips Interactive Media) remembered him as a quiet man “who was always kind of in the shadows. He was the opposite of the flamboyant Harry Cohn.”

Forged indie links

Stulberg said Schneider “was one of the pioneers of studios working with independents,” including Stanley Kramer and Hecht-Hill-Lancaster.

“That’s when Columbia really burst out in the independent production area with films like ‘Birdman of Alcatraz’ (Hecht-Hill-Lancaster), Stanley Kramer’s ‘Ship of Fools,’ and Richard Brooks’ ‘The Professionals,’ ” said Stulberg.

True to convictions

MPAA president Jack Valenti credited Schneider for his unwavering principles.

“The thing I most admired about Abe is that he had convictions which he never strayed from and that was the definition of quality in movies. … I have nothing but loving memories of Abe Schneider,” Valenti told Daily Variety.

Schneider is survived by his wife of 66 years, Ida, and sons Harold and Bert, both of whom were involved in various capacities with Columbia before and after their father’s reign.

His eldest son, Stanley (president of Columbia Pictures from 1970-73) died in 1975 at 46.

More Film

  • Crown Vic

    Thomas Jane's Police Thriller 'Crown Vic' Sells to Screen Media (EXCLUSIVE)

    Screen Media has bought North American rights to writer-director Joel Souza’s police crime-thriller “Crown Vic,” starring Thomas Jane and Luke Kleintank. The distributor closed terms during the Cannes Film Festival amid a competitive bidding situation between seven other suitors. Screen Media plans to release the pic this fall. “Crown Vic” premiered in April at the [...]

  • Colleen Bell

    Colleen Bell Replaces Amy Lemisch as California Film Commission Director

    Veteran entertainment executive and ambassador Colleen Bell will replace Amy Lemisch as director of the California Film Commission. Bell, who was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday, has worked as a consultant since 2017. She was the U.S. ambassador to Hungary from 2014 to 2017. She held several positions at Bell-Phillip Television Productions, including [...]

  • Jon Feltheimer

    Lionsgate Posts Loss, Underperforms Wall Street Expectations

    Lionsgate has posted a quarterly loss and its revenues and operating income have come in under Wall Street projections, despite growth from its premium cable channel, Starz. The studio reported a net loss of $24 million, or 11 cents a share, with adjusted operating income of $103 million for its fourth fiscal quarter ended March [...]

  • Cannes: China's 'Summer of Changsha' Debuts

    Cannes: China's 'Summer of Changsha' Debuts Without Censorship Approval

    Chinese crime drama “Summer of Changsha” screened at the Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section despite lacking the necessary approvals from China’s censors. It premiered without its director or creative team in attendance, who blamed “technical reasons” for their absence — marking the third time that Chinese censorship appears to have caused [...]

  • Jane Austin SAG AFTRA

    SAG-AFTRA Secretary-Treasurer Jane Austin Running for President

    Jane Austin, the National Secretary-Treasurer of SAG-AFTRA, has become the third candidate for the presidency of the performers union, joining incumbent Gabrielle Carteris and Matthew Modine. Austin is running as an independent for the top post at SAG-AFTRA, which has 160,000 members. Carteris will seek re-election as the head of the ticket for the Unite [...]

  • John Wick Chapter 3

    'John Wick: Chapter 3' Tones Down the Blood and Gore to Keep Look 'Totally Real'

    When Jeff Campbell, a visual effects supervisor with VFX studio Spin, initially set to work on the first “John Wick,” the 2014 action thriller from director Chad Stahelski and writer Derek Kolstad, he started with an industry-standard test: Establish a single, simple kill effect meant to get a sense of the look of the violence [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content