The wealthy life and tragic dying of producer Steve Bing

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The rich life and tragic death of producer Steve Bing

In June, Father’s Day got here and went and Steve Bing, the movie producer and philanthropist, had did not name legendary rocker Jerry Lee Lewis at his Mississippi residence.

“I knew something wasn’t right,” stated Lewis’ spouse, Judith. “It was the first time. Steve even called me on Mother’s Day.”

Bing first met the rocker as a 15-year-old starstruck fan within the 1980s, when he snuck into the Palomino Membership in North Hollywood to look at Lewis carry out. The pair struck up a friendship and Bing advised pals it was the Palomino reveals that impressed him to show himself to play the piano.

Over time, their relationship deepened. Bing plucked Lewis from the tangled skids of his life and stalled profession, coproducing his acclaimed comeback album “Last Man Standing” in 2006. Lewis, now 84, thought of Bing a son.

“He was in a great mood,” Judith stated of her and Jerry’s final telephone dialog with Bing, three days earlier than Father’s Day. “It was uplifting. He was joking with Jerry about women. He had an awesome sense of humor. He talked about getting us a place in Palm Springs. He said, ‘I don’t want you staying at the Motel 6.’”

On June 22, the next Monday, Judith obtained a name from Bing’s assistant that left her shell-shocked: Bing, 55, died after falling 27 tales from his luxurious high-rise in Century Metropolis in what authorities stated was a suicide.

“I had no clue whatsoever that he’d commit suicide,” she stated, heartbroken. Afraid that her husband, who had a stroke final yr, may endure one other one, Judith advised him that Bing had an enormous coronary heart assault.

“He looked at me and said, ‘I don’t know what I’ll do in this world without my son.’”

Bing’s dying shook the expansive and interconnected worlds of leisure, Democratic politics and social activism by which he loomed massive. But, whereas the multimillionaire Bing lived a lifetime of glamour and privilege, those that knew him say he was deeper and an eminently extra sophisticated determine than his portrayal in sensational headlines.

He was good and stuffed with optimism, they are saying, however he was additionally enigmatic and a knot of contradictions. Bing shunned fame but was surrounded by celebrities and energy brokers. He donated tens of millions to Democrats and a slew of progressive causes but didn’t search recognition. He took care of everybody round him and barely requested anybody for assist however wasn’t concerned in his personal youngsters’s lives. Intensely non-public, he died in an incredibly public method.

Whereas left surprised and devastated by Bing’s dying, some stated they weren’t stunned. Lengthy estranged from his household, he battled melancholy and medicines, his pals stated. Inside his interior circle, he’d revealed that he had bipolar dysfunction; he’d talked about suicide prior to now.

His final days have been troublesome. The pandemic had reduce him off from his many pals and boisterous social life. Additionally weighing closely on him: Bing was approaching the one-year anniversary of the dying of his girlfriend.

He took stabs at remaining engaged with the causes he cared about. He met with homeless folks and helped join them to meals and sources. Alongside together with his shut pal Mikey Beaven, a former Inexperienced Beret, he was growing an app that may assist forestall veterans’ suicides. However he had additionally fallen right into a deep melancholy. Throughout his ultimate week, Bing was talking with a therapist twice a day.

“He was the biggest, sweetest, most giving guy I ever met in my life both physically and emotionally. But at the same time, he was the loneliest,” Beaven stated.

***

At 6-foot-Four with silver hair, Bing reduce a hanging determine, wearing a uniform of denims, T-shirts and sneakers. He begrudgingly owned a single black blazer, stored for the odd event that required a jacket. He drove a 1997 Lincoln City Automobile. He as soon as owned a spectacular piece of property reverse the Lodge Bel-Air, the place he famously lived for practically 9 years starting in 1991. A piano and authentic prints by rock ’n’ roll photographer Jim Marshall have been amongst his few possessions.

Bing appeared so unassuming that few knew he possessed huge wealth. Actress Kelly Lynch wrote on Instagram that when she and husband Mitch Glazer first met him, they “mistakenly thought he was a sweet homeless guy crashing on a friend’s sofa in Malibu.”

Buddies stated he was an enormous child with a unprecedented urge for food for enjoyable, pathologically upbeat and beneficiant to a fault.

“‘Let’s have a laugh.’ That was his line,” stated producer Cassian Elwes. “He was a cinephile and a rock fan. He was a great raconteur. He loved stories about old Hollywood. … I remember he played at some club in Westwood when he was about 19 or 20. He played the piano, all the Rolling Stones songs. He was a huge fan.”

Jeff Ayeroff, who shaped the boutique file label Shangri-La Music with Bing in 2008, described him as “the most rock ’n’ roll person I know.”

Ayeroff met Bing in 2004 when he was chief artistic director and vice chairman of Warner Information, engaged on the soundtrack for “The Polar Express.” Bing had put up about $85 million to finance Robert Zemeckis’ animated movie.

They struck up an instantaneous friendship. “He was tall, smart and funny,” Ayeroff recalled of his first impression. “He was always on the move.”

One in all Ayeroff’s favourite recollections was the time he labored with Bing on the 2008 Rolling Stones live performance documentary “Shine a Light.” Bing helped finance the movie directed by Martin Scorsese.

“We flew to Rome on Bing’s plane to show the Stones the film,” he stated. “We were with Martin and his family. The Stones were playing and we walked into the arena and everyone was screaming ‘Maestro’ to Martin.”

Over time, Bing cultivated a large and various group of pals.

Peter Guralnick, who wrote the acclaimed Elvis Presley biography “Last Train to Memphis,” stated nothing delighted Bing greater than to introduce his huge circle from totally different facets of his life to one another.

Within the early 2000s, Bing was concerned in two sensational paternity instances, together with one with British actress Elizabeth Hurley, with whom he had a son.

(Gero Breloer / Related Press)

“He was just extremely generous the way he tried to expand the world of his friends and convey his passion for things and people,” he stated.

Guralnick recalled the influence Bing had when he launched Solomon Burke, the preacher and one of many founding fathers of soul music, to Jerry Lee Lewis.

“They hadn’t been particularly aware of each other but through his introduction became best of friends,” he stated. “And Steve got such a kick out of that because he had such admiration for both.”

Bing was a pal to President Invoice Clinton, whom he referred to as “the boss.” In 2009, he provided Clinton with a airplane when the previous president traveled to North Korea to free two American journalists.

Over time, Bing donated tens of millions to the Democratic Social gathering. In 2002, when he wrote a test to the DNC for $5 million, he trailed solely Haim Saban because the get together’s largest contributor. He allotted tens of millions extra to organizations such because the Pure Sources Protection Council and efforts to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He reportedly spent $40 million to finance Proposition 87, the 2006 green-energy initiative on the California poll that finally failed.

Whereas Bing’s acts of largesse have been boundless, most of them have been little recognized.

Twenty years in the past, when Jerry Lee Lewis stumbled into laborious instances, Bing introduced in docs and accountants and straightened out his life.

When Lewis had his stroke in February 2019, Judith referred to as Bing from the ambulance.

“I want the world to know what kind of wonderful human being he was,” stated Judith. “He’s always been there no matter what.”

Bing was deeply concerned in supporting veterans causes and the homeless. Beaven stated that Bing had advised him he felt dangerous that he made a film about veterans and by no means served. “This was his way of giving back.”

In March, Bing bought tickets to deliver 25 veterans and their households to a profit efficiency that includes Al Pacino. “He took them to dinner and sat and talked with each one for 20 minutes and thanked them,” stated Beaven.

Rock 'n' roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis, shown performing in Las Vegas in 2009, was a close friend of Steve Bing's.

Steve Bing met rock ‘n’ roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis, proven performing in Las Vegas, when he was a 15-year-old fan. The 2 developed a father-son relationship.

(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Occasions)

Jim Keltner, the famed session drummer, first met Bing in the course of the studio recording of the Rolling Stones’ album “Bridges to Babylon” in 1997. The 2 grew to become shut; Keltner was amongst Bing’s father figures.

“I’ll tell you something, the Steve Bing that I knew was a one-of-a-kind in your lifetime,” he stated. “I never knew anybody like that.”

When Keltner couldn’t afford to maintain his son in a rehab facility, Bing took over the funds. “He relished helping you and you could not say thank you. … It’s just heartbreaking.”

Bing was born in New York to a rich household. His grandfather, Leo S. Bing, was an actual property magnate. His father, Peter Bing, was a well-regarded public well being physician who labored for Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. His mom, Helen, was a nurse.

Whereas Bing was nonetheless a toddler, the household, together with his sister Mary, moved to Los Angeles, the place his father engaged in full-time philanthropy. The Bing identify adorns quite a lot of museums and live performance halls in California.

At 18, Bing inherited a $600-million fortune from his grandfather. He dropped out of Stanford throughout his junior yr to pursue filmmaking, with blended outcomes. He co-wrote the 1984 Chuck Norris film “Missing in Action” and directed the straight-to-video thriller “Every Breath,” starring Judd Nelson. He launched his personal manufacturing firm, Shangri-La Leisure, in 2000 and produced a number of motion pictures, together with the Sylvester Stallone image “Get Carter” and the Albert Brooks-directed “Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World.”

Bing’s pals described his relationship together with his household as strained, notably together with his father. He would typically inform pals he was an “orphan.” It was the rationale his pals grew to become his household and, as one surmised, why he lived in motels.

Peter Bing has not spoken publicly about his son since his dying, and the household didn’t reply to a request for remark. In line with a detailed pal, non-public funeral preparations are being made.

By no means married, Bing dated a string of celebrities together with Sharon Stone. Within the early 2000s, his private life grew to become tabloid fodder when he grew to become the topic of two sensational paternity instances.

In a single, he sued British actress Elizabeth Hurley to power a DNA check after she stated he was the daddy of her son, Damian. An English courtroom revealed that Bing certainly was the newborn’s father.

Within the different case, Bing sued Kirk Kerkorian for invasion of privateness after the billionaire’s non-public eye — the notorious Anthony Pellicano — took Bing’s dental floss out of his trash can. Kerkorian was embroiled in a child-support lawsuit together with his ex-wife, Lisa Bonder. He used the DNA from the floss to show that Bing was the daddy of Bonder’s baby, Kira.

He was stated to have solely met Kira, now 21, as an grownup. Damian is 18.

Nevertheless, in 2019, when his father tried to chop his youngsters out of the household belief, Bing fought for them in courtroom — and gained. The elder Bing argued that his son’s youngsters had been born out of wedlock, that Steve had by no means lived with them or developed a relationship with them. “I do not consider them my grandchildren,” he stated within the filings.

Judith Lewis stated Bing arrange a belief fund for Damian and was ecstatic when he met Kira as an grownup, however crushed when she dropped contact with him. “He told me, ‘I’m waiting. I’ve done all that I can do. I can’t fight them all.’”

Hurley’s representatives didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Lisa Bonder declined to remark.

After Bing’s dying, each Hurley and her son posted to social media. Hurley stated prior to now yr she had resumed speaking with Bing and so they final spoke on their son’s birthday. Damian Hurley referred to as the information of Bing’s dying “devastating.”

***

Throughout his ultimate years, Bing was looking for the that means of life. Buddies say he talked about God. “He wanted to find out what’s on the other side,” Keltner stated. “He wanted to know if there was more to this whole thing.”

In 2018, he’d fallen in love with Allexanne Mitchum, the great-granddaughter of Robert Mitchum. They moved in collectively and located a home in Palm Springs.

Her aunt, Carrie Mitchum, a pal of Bing’s, launched the couple. The connection with Allexanne, an actress and an artist who was 25 years youthful than Bing, took many abruptly, not due to the age distinction however as a result of Bing had discovered real love.

Final summer season, Mitchum took a Xanax and slipped into unconsciousness. She died on July three from acute Fentanyl and Alprazolam toxicity, based on the L.A. County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s workplace.

“That really destroyed a big piece of him,” Keltner stated. “He wasn’t quite the same after that.”

He endured different troubles as nicely.

A pal who requested to not be named due to the publicity surrounding Bing’s dying stated he had been to drug rehab a few instances. In 2018, she stated his drug use had taken a toll on his well being and urged him to get assist once more. He had helped her as soon as throughout a tricky interval and he or she wished to return the kindness.

However his struggles with melancholy he largely endured alone.

In his ultimate weeks, Bing provided few clues that something was amiss.

He was engaged on a number of tasks, together with a documentary about Jerry Lee Lewis and a biopic of Solar Studios founder Sam Phillips.

Every week earlier than Bing died, Elwes spoke with him on the telephone. Like most of his pals who have been involved with him, Elwes stated, “I didn’t suspect anything was off.”

The COVID shutdown, nevertheless, appeared to deepen Bing’s sense of isolation.

Keltner declined quite a few invites to get collectively. “He always wanted to meet for dinner.”

“We were concerned. I’m married and the rest of us have people to be around and ride this thing out,” Keltner stated. “Steve was so out there, all of the time, going, visiting people. The isolation of COVID, I can only imagine it got to him, but he was not the type of guy to call and complain.”

The week earlier than he died, Bing fell right into a deep melancholy. Allexanne’s dying, the COVID isolation and Father’s Day clawed at him.

Beaven spoke with Bing on the morning of his dying; Bing advised him he was feeling higher. The pair deliberate to satisfy the next day to go to Thousand Oaks. Beaven stated that the day after Bing died, the testing on the app they have been engaged on to forestall veterans’ suicides was full.

***

On the morning of July 2, a package deal arrived from Bing for Jerry Lee Lewis. It had been despatched out on the Saturday earlier than he died, supposed for Lewis to open on Father’s Day, nevertheless it had been misrouted and so it arrived 11 days after Bing took his life.

Lewis, who had misplaced two of his organic sons, advised his spouse he was too upset to open it, and let it sit for just a few hours.

When he lastly determined to look inside, Lewis discovered a good looking pipe. Accompanying the present was a handwritten word, “To the greatest father in the world. Love your son — Steve.”

Lewis lit up the pipe. Then he requested his spouse to put the word inside their Bible.

Occasions Workers Author Richard Winton contributed to this report.

Be aware: Warning indicators of suicide embrace emotions of hopelessness, elevated drug or alcohol use, and withdrawal from others. When you or somebody you understand is exhibiting warning indicators of suicide, search assist from an expert and name the Nationwide Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). For extra suicide prevention sources click on right here.


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