Steve Bing, philanthropist and film producer, dies after fall from building
Steve Bing, philanthropist, film producer and prominent Democratic political donor whose producing credits included “The Polar Express” and “Get Carter,” died Monday.
Bing, 55, fell to his death from a high-rise building in Century City, according to a law enforcement source who was not authorized to comment. L.A. County coroner’s spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said an autopsy conducted Tuesday determined that Bing died of multiple blunt trauma injuries and that the cause of death was suicide.
A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department said it responded to a call around 1 p.m. on Monday regarding the death of a man in his 50s in the 10000 block of Santa Monica Boulevard in Century City. The site is a 40-floor luxury apartment complex called Ten Thousand, where Bing lived.
“This is the only information we have at this time,” said Capt. Gisselle Espinoza, an LAPD spokeswoman.
Known to be media-shy, the real estate scion was a Harvard Westlake graduate who inherited a $600-million fortune at the age of 18.
Bing, a major Democratic donor and a friend of President Bill Clinton, went on to Stanford but dropped out in his junior year to pursue filmmaking. Rangy and silver-haired, the 6-foot-4 producer often was seen dressed casually in jeans and gym shoes.
Clinton joined those online expressing their sadness. “I loved Steve Bing very much,” Clinton tweeted. “He had a big heart, and was willing to do anything he could for the people and causes he believed in. I will miss him and his enthusiasm more than I can say, I hope he’s finally found peace.”
Bing’s name was thrust into the spotlight when he became involved in two highly publicized paternity cases. In one, he sued British actress Elizabeth Hurley to force a DNA test after she said he was the father of her baby.
In the other case, he sued Kirk Kerkorian for invasion of privacy after the billionaire’s private eye — the infamous Anthony Pellicano — took Bing’s dental floss out of his trash can. Kerkorian was embroiled in a child-support lawsuit with his ex-wife, Lisa Bonder. He used the DNA from the floss to prove that Bing was the father of Bonder’s child, Kira.
An English court revealed that Bing indeed was the father of Hurley’s baby. Hurley and Bing’s son, Damian, turned 18 in April.
Both Hurley and Damian posted to social media in the wake of Bing’s death. “It is a terrible end,” said Hurley on her Instagram account, where she included several photos of her with Bing. “Although we went through some tough times, it’s the good, wonderful memories of a sweet, kind man that matter.” She said they had become close again in the past year and last spoke on their son’s birthday. Damian Hurley said the news was “devastating.”
Elizabeth Hurley, who had son Damian with Steve Bing, is ‘saddened beyond belief’ by the death of her producer-philanthropist ex on Monday.
The source of Bing’s wealth was a family real estate fortune established by his grandfather, Leo Bing. (Bing’s middle name is Leo.) The family has a history of philanthropy, with the Bing name gracing art museums and concert halls across the state, including the L.A. County Museum of Art’s Leo S. Bing Theatre (recently demolished).
His father, Dr. Peter Bing, worked on public health issues for the Johnson White House before relocating to Los Angeles.
The younger Bing cultivated something of a latter-day Howard Hughes mystique and reportedly lived for years in the Hotel Bel-Air. He was friends with stars such as Brad Pitt but also fell out with other actors, including Sean Penn, whom he sued over a movie role.
He was best known for his backing of filmmakers and musicians. Bing was a self-professed lifelong fan of Jerry Lee Lewis and helped finance the musician’s return to the recording studio, coproducing his album “Rock & Roll Time” with veteran studio drummer Jim Keltner. He produced Martin Scorsese’s “Shine a Light” documentary about the Rolling Stones.
Before he finished school, Bing had already cowritten his first screenplay, called “Missing in Action,” with veteran sitcom writer Arthur Silver. It was made into a Chuck Norris film and spawned a sequel.
He directed an erotic thriller titled “Every Breath,” starring Judd Nelson, which went straight to video.
Bing launched his own production company, Shangri-La Entertainment, in 2000 and produced several movies, including the Sylvester Stallone picture “Get Carter” and the Bill Murray comedy “Rock the Kasbah.” He put up about $85 million to finance Robert Zemeckis’ 2004 animated film “The Polar Express,” featuring Tom Hanks.
Bing also gave to many musical and artistic causes.
Musician Flea, best known as the bassist from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, posted on social media that Bing was “a kind and thoughtful man. A massive help in building the Silverlake Conservatory of Music, he went up and beyond to help us educate children who couldn’t otherwise afford it, he just cared and never wanted accolades. God bless his beautiful soul.”
In 2012, Bing pledged $30 million as an estate gift to the Motion Picture & Television Fund. “We were enormously grateful when he gave the gift,” said Bob Beitcher, chief executive of the MPTF. “He was a big supporter.”
Times staff writer Kevin Rector contributed to this report.
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