Ben Stein - Actor, Economist, Game Show Host, Lawyer, Activist, Writer, Political Commentator.
It's amazing what ordinary people can do if they set out without preconceived notions.
Benjamin Jeremy Stein is a very versatile man. Some go as far as to call him a renaissance man. Most people probably know him as an actor, specifically from his role as the boring Economics teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Anyone, anyone? Anyone seen this before? Those in the know, however, know that Ben Stein is in his prime on his game show, Win Ben Stein's Money. In that show, Ben goes head to head against the contestants. If they beat him, they take home the prize money, otherwise he gets to keep most of it. Watching this game definitely gives the viewer a little taste of just how smart this man is. Or, perhaps if not smart, but the sheer amount of stuff that Ben knows. It is very rare for a contestant to beat him. Where did he learn all this stuff, you might ask? Well, he was valedictorian of his class at Yale University Law School, was a speech writer for both the Nixon and Ford White Houses, University Professor, and a writer.
Ben was born on November 25, 1944, in Washington D.C. He is the son of economist and writer, Herbert Stein, although unfortunately, I can't seem to find his mother's name. Raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, after graduation from high school he attended Columbia University, in New York City. While there, he joined the Alpha Delta Phi Society. After graduating with an Economics degree in 1966, he moved on to another Ivy League School, and studied law at Yale University. When he graduated in 1970, he was voted by his graduating class to be the valedictorian.
Stein started out as a poverty lawyer New Haven, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C. He soon started working for the Federal Trade Commission, as a trial lawyer. In 1973 and 1974, he was also a speech writer for the White House. At the time, his father Herbert Stein was the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, which I imagine is how young Ben got the job. As such, he was working there when the whole Watergate scandal was going on, and when Nixon resigned, and Ford became president. Ben has always denied being Deep Throat, and denies writing the line "I am not a crook".
Stein has taught, and still is teaching as a university professor. He has taught mass culture at American University, and at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he also taught about civil and political rights. In the mid 1980's, he moved on to libel and securities law, at Pepperdine University in Malibu, where he still teaches today.
As mentioned before, he is a writer as well. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Magazine, The Los Angeles Herald Examiner, New York Magazine, E! Online, The Washington Post, and The American Spectator. He has also written 16 books, 7 novels and 9 nonfiction. I'll give a list of them below. Many of his articles and books are about politics and/or economics, and they do quite clearly betray his conservative standpoint. A lifelong republican, recently Ben has been a vocal supporter of the Bush administration, and of the Iraq war, even going as far as to defend the actions of the soldiers involved in the Abu Ghraib Prison abuse scandal. In addition, he has been a pro-life activist, for which he was given a Pro-Life award in 2003, by the National Right to Life Educational Trust Fund. If you would like to read some of his articles, check it out here.
Ben is married to Alexandra Denman, who according to imdb.com at least, he married in 1968, divorced in 1974, and then remarried in 1977. Together they have a son named Tommy.
Stein started out in Hollywood as a consultant, helping liberal screenwriters more accurately depict life in a conservative family. He moved on to movies, with his first role as a salesman in the 1984 flick The Wild Life. Next came his most famous role, as the economics teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Since then, he's had a number of minor roles in a great many movies. However, he really hit the big times in 1997, when he managed to talk people into starting up a little game show by the name of Win Ben Stein's Money. The idea is that three contestants start in the first round, answering questions, and being awarded some of Ben's Money. Whoever has the least money, doesn't go on to the 2nd round, when Ben takes their place at the buzzer trying to prevent the other two contestants from winning more of his money. At the end of that round, whoever has the most money goes head to head against Ben. They both try to answer 10 questions within a minute, and if the contestant beats Ben, they take home the entire $5000 USD pot. If they tie they take home what they've won so far, plus another $1000, and if Ben wins, they take home only the money they've won so far, usually in the $500 - $1000 range. Ben's salary for the show is the money not won by the contestants, although I wouldn't be surprised if that is supplemented by an additional salary. One thing that must be mentioned about this show is the titles of the categories that people can chose from. Generally, they are some horrible pun, sexual innuendo, or some combination thereof. Always amusing. This game show is IMHO, both the funniest game show out there (It's produced by Comedy Central), and the hardest. After all, to win at Jeopardy!, you don't have to beat Alex Trebek, who probably wouldn't do as well as Ben does anyways.
He was also, in 1999, the host of Turn Ben Stein On which was apparently some type of late night talk show. I wouldn't really know, since I never saw it, and it has unfortunately been canceled. In addition, he also has appeared in notable commercials for Clear Eyes eye drops, Wendy's, and for the search engine Yahoo!
Books written by Ben Stein:
- Can America Survive?: The Rage of the Left, the Truth, and What to Do About It
- Yes, You Can Time the Market!
- How to Ruin Your Life
- How to Ruin Your Love Life
- How to Ruin Your Financial Life
- TOMMY AND ME : THE MAKING OF A DAD
- Bunkhouse Logic: How Successful People Win : Attitudes and Strategies for Winning What You Want in Life
- The View from Sunset Boulevard: America As Brought to You by the People Who Make Television
- Bunkhouse Logic
- Yes You Can Become A Successful Income Investor: Reaching For Yield In Todays Market
- The Gift Of Peace: Guideposts On The Road To Serenity
- A License to Steal, Michael Milken and the Conspiracy to Bilk the Nation
- Hollywood Days
- Hollywood Nights
- Financial Passages
IMDb, "Ben Stein," The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). <www.imdb.com/name/nm0825401> (December 15, 2004).
Blue Cheese Design, "Biography," Ben's House. January 15, 2003. <www.benstein.com/bio.html> (December 15, 2004).