Ben Stein

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Ben Stein

Benjamin Jeremy Stein (born November 25, 1944, in Washington, D.C.,) is an American attorney, former game show host, actor, screenwriter, former political speechwriter, law professor, economist, author, columnist, as well as a commercial personality. He is the son of Herbert Stein.


Personal background

His early years were spent growing up in a heavily Democratic neighborhood in Silver Spring, Maryland. After graduating from Montgomery Blair High School, Stein attended Columbia University, where he majored in economics. He graduated with honors in 1966, and then enrolled in Yale University Law School, graduating as the class valedictorian in 1970.

Stein currently resides with his wife and son in Beverly Hills, California. He was previously a San Fernando Valley resident of Los Angeles, California. He lives part time in Malibu, California in a house with a Pacific Ocean view while teaching at Pepperdine University.


Stein eventually became a Hollywood consultant, helping liberal writers portray a conservative family on television. He then moved into acting. Stein's film career received a boost from his famous role as the colorless and boring economics teacher in the 1986 movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Stein holds a degree in economics, so in his class scene, he is giving a real economics lecture (the only part of his scenes that was scripted was when he called attendance). Stein excelled at playing these bland and unemotional characters, and was subsequently typecast into many roles, mainly as a nerd. He had a recurring role in the TV series The Wonder Years and played himself in Dave. He also did a series of commercials for Clear Eyes. Stein's deadpan, monotone deliveries stood in stark contrast to the more typical enthusiastic commercial personalities, making the Clear Eyes advertisements different and memorable.

He was first a poverty lawyer in New Haven, Connecticut and Washington, D.C. before becoming a trial lawyer for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Stein's first teaching stint was as an adjunct professor, teaching political and social content of mass culture at American University in Washington, D.C, and then at University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). Additionally, he also held classes on political and civil rights from the United States Constitution at UCSC. At Pepperdine University in Southern California, Stein taught libel law and securities law and its ethical aspects. He remains an active law professor at its Malibu campus, having joined Pepperdine's faculty in the mid-1980s.

Among his voice roles are The Pixies on the hit animated series The Fairly OddParents.

In 1997 Stein was given his own game show by Comedy Central titled Win Ben Stein's Money. True to its name, the money that contestants won on the show was subtracted from the $5000 Ben earned (in addition to his salary). The show won seven Emmy awards before ending its run in 2003. As of 2005, repeats air in the USA on Game Show Network.

In 2003, and also in 2004, he judged for Star Search. In 2005, he began his run as host of Game Show Moments Gone Bananas on VH1.

Despite having appeared in many "Hollywood" movies, he is a noted critic of many attitudes found among film studio leaders, but not of the "rank and file" of the film industry itself.


Stein began his career as a speechwriter and lawyer for United States President Richard Nixon, and later for President Gerald Ford. He regularly denied being Deep Throat until W. Mark Felt confessed to being Deep Throat on May 31, 2005.

His efforts at film and television screenwriting have largely been for naught, though he is notable for his script Murder in Mississippi and contributed to the creation of the well-liked TV comedy Fernwood 2-Night, among other works.

A prodigious writer, Stein has written books on several topics including economics, and is a vocal supporter of the Republican Party. He writes a regular column in the conservative magazine The American Spectator. Stein has also written for numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine and Barron's Magazine, where his discussion of the Michael Milken Drexel Burnham Lambert junk bond situation as well as the ethical dimensions of management buyouts attracted heavy US national attention in the 1980s and '90s. Stein is also a pro-life activist and was given a Pro-Life Award in 2003 by the National Right to Life Educational Trust Fund.

His book titles to date (7 fiction, 9 nonfiction) include:

  • DREEMZ (1978)
  • The View from Sunset Boulevard: America as brought to you by the people who make television (1979)
  • Ludes (1982)
  • Financial Passages (1985)
  • Hollywood Days, Hollywood Nights: the Diary of a Mad Screenwriter (1988)
  • A License to Steal: the Untold Story of Michael Milken and the Conspiracy to Bilk the Nation (1992)
  • How to Ruin Your Life (2002) ISBN 1561709743
  • How to Ruin Your Love Life (2003) ISBN 1401902405
  • How to Ruin Your Financial Life (2004) ISBN 1401902413
  • Can America Survive? The Rage of the Left, the Truth, and What to Do About It (2004) ISBN 1401903339


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