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Steve Blauner, singer Bobby Darin‘s longtime manager and a partner with Bert Schneider and Bob Rafelson in the New Hollywood influential production company BBS, died June 16 at his home in Marina del Rey of complications from a broken hip. He was 81.
A childhood friend of Schneider’s from White Plains, N.Y., Blauner was serving in the Air Force when he befriended Sammy Davis, Jr. and segued into work as a music agent at GAC in the 1950s, when he met Darin. Quitting the agency, he was the singer’s manager through 1965. They remained good friends and, years later, Blauner was a consultant on Kevin Spacey‘s Darin biographical musical Beyond the Sea, in which he was played by John Goodman.
In the mid-1960s, Schneider was a vice-president at Screen Gems and brought in his old friend to work on such hit TV shows as Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Hazel and The Monkees, the latter the creation of Rafelson, who had formed Raybert Productions with Schneider.
With Blauner, they regrouped as BBS Productions, named for Bob, Bert and Steve, which in a period of five years produced, on very low budgets, several of the landmark works of the counter-culture New Hollywood: Easy Rider, The Last Picture Show, Five Easy Pieces, Head, The King of Marvin Gardens, A Safe Place and, its final production, the 1974 Oscar-winning documentary Hearts and Minds. Among other things, Blauner made a point of selecting the theaters where these unconventional films would play, explaining them to theater owners and shepherding them into the marketplace.
Blauner also produced Jack Nicholson‘s directorial debut, Drive, He Said, in 1971, and the 1979 concert film Richard Pryor: Live in Concert. He also produced the 1987 TV series The New Monkees.
He is survived by two daughters, Moon Blauner and Grace Brown.
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