In September 1965, Hollywood television producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider placed an ad in The Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety. By November 1965, after over 400 potential applicants were screened, the audition process had been completed. Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork were now The Monkees.
Steve Blauner, former partner of Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, passed away earlier this week. In Davy's 1987 autobiography, They Made a Monkee Out of Me, he remembered some pranks exchanged between the pair in the 1960s. (For context, the story being told by Davy at the start of the page below concerns some financial issues he was experiencing with a former manager.)
After producing Five Easy Pieces in 1969, Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, the team who created The Monkees television series, took on a third partner, Stephen Blauner, changing the name of their company from Raybert Productions to BBS Productions (for Bert, Bob, and Steve). Blauner, a Columbia Pictures executive who green lighted The Monkees' TV show (even getting a name-check in one episode, as a gangster), moved on to films like The Last Picture Show; Drive, He Said; and The King Of Marvin Gardens. In the mid-1980s, Blauner produced The New Monkees under the name Straybert Productions.
"It is far and away my favorite Monkees song."
The Monkees received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on July 10, 1989. One half of Raybert, Bert Schneider, joined Micky, Michael, Davy, and Peter on that day.
Bert was one of The Monkees' biggest fans. When he passed away in 2011, Monkees archivist Andrew Sandoval posted the following on Facebook:
One of the last times I spoke to Bert he stopped our conversation to impress upon me, "By the way, I'm a Monkees fan." I think that says a lot about why The Monkees show happened, why the group became a group and why many of the projects Bert turned his hand to had the quality they did. He was a fan."
Check out these two letters published in Davy's 1987 autobiography, They Made a Monkee Out of Me. The first is from Bert Schneider to Lester Sill and shows Schneider's concerns about royalties The Monkees will receive from sales of their records (along with his concerns about then recent recording sessions conducted by Boyce & Hart - perhaps referencing material like "Kicking Stones" and "Ladies Aid Society"???). The second letter is addressed to Ward Sylvester (sender unknown) and concerns the 'controversy' over the title of the song "Randy Scouse Git," which was being prepped for single release in England in 1967.
John "Jackie" Cooper, Jr. was an actor, television director, producer, and executive. As a child star, he was the youngest performer to have been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role (at age 9 for the film Skippy in 1931). As an adult, Cooper transitioned from child actor into a figure that experienced a long and storied career in Hollywood. From 1964 to 1969, Cooper was vice president of program development at Columbia Pictures Screen Gems television division. He was responsible for developing shows (such as Bewitched) and selling them to the networks.
In April 1965, Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider received $225,000 from Cooper after forming Raybert Productions, the new company that had created the concept for what would become The Monkees television series. With that start-up money, Raybert was able to begin the audition process that eventually led to the selection of Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork.
In this 1989 interview with Paris Stachtiaris on the Headquarters radio program, Cooper recalls the triumphs and challenges of his years in Hollywood, and discusses his involvement with the Monkees project.