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Benjamin Jeremy Stein (born November 25, 1944) is an American attorney, political figure, and entertainment personality who in his early career served as speechwriter for U.S. presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Later he entered the entertainment field and became an Emmy Award-winning actor, comedian, and game show host.

Stein has frequently written commentaries on economic, political, and social issues, along with financial advice to individual investors. Recently, he has become an outspoken critic of Darwinism and advocates for intelligent design. He is the son of noted economist and writer Herbert Stein[1] who worked at the White House, under President Nixon. His sister, Rachel, is also a writer.

Early years

Stein was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Mildred (née Fishman), a homemaker, and Herb Stein, a writer, economist, and presidential adviser.[2] He was raised Jewish and grew up in the Woodside Forest neighborhood of Silver Spring, Maryland. Stein graduated from Montgomery Blair High School in 1961 along with classmate journalist Carl Bernstein; actress Goldie Hawn (class of 1963) was two years behind. Actor Sylvester Stallone was a schoolmate at Montgomery Hills Junior High School. He went on to major in economics at Columbia University's Columbia College, where he was a member of Alpha Delta Phi society and the Philolexian Society. After graduating with honors from Columbia in 1966, Stein went to Yale Law School, from which he graduated as the class valedictorian in June of 1970. He's stated that he didn't have the highest grades in his class at Yale, but was voted valedictorian by the students because he was most popular.[3] On December 21, 1970, while visiting his father at work, Ben Stein met Elvis Presley in the White House cafeteria. He allegedly leaked the story of Presley's meeting with President Nixon, including the erroneous information that Elvis was wearing a cape, to columnist Jack Anderson, who published it a year later.

Legal and academic career

Stein speaking at Miami University in 2003He was first a poverty lawyer in New Haven, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C. before becoming a trial lawyer for the Federal Trade Commission.[4]

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. He also held classes on political and civil rights from the United States Constitution at UC Santa Cruz. At Pepperdine University in Southern California, Stein taught libel law and United States securities law and its ethical aspects. He was a professor of law at Pepperdine University Law School, from about 1990 to 1997.[5]

In addition, Stein is very interested in American Civil War history, and is a strong supporter of the Civil War Preservation Trust.

Writing career

A frequent writer, Stein has authored books on several topics, including economics. He writes a regular column in the conservative magazine The American Spectator. He has also written for numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, New York Magazine, Penthouse, 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 1990s. He currently writes a regular column for the Sunday New York Times Business Section and for Yahoo! Finance online.

Political career

Stein began his political career as a speechwriter and lawyer for President Richard Nixon, and later for President Gerald Ford. On May 3, 1976, Time magazine speculated on the possibility of Stein having actually been Deep Throat. Stein responded over the years by not only denying he was Deep Throat, but by going further and accusing journalist Bob Woodward of falsifying the famous secret source. In the May 14–21, 1998, edition of the Philadelphia City Paper Stein is quoted saying, "Oh, I don't think there was a Deep Throat. That was a fake. I think there were several different sources and some they just made up".[6] After Mark Felt's identity as Deep Throat was revealed, Stein stated that Richard Nixon would have prevented the rise to power of the Khmer Rouge if he had not been forced to resign. For his actions leading to that resignation, Stein said:

If there is such a thing as kharma, if there is such a thing as justice in this life or the next, Mark Felt has bought himself the worst future of any man on this earth. And Bob Woodward is right behind him, with Ben Bradlee bringing up the rear. Out of their smug arrogance and contempt, they hatched the worst nightmare imaginable: genocide.[7]

Some have called Stein a "Nixon apologist" due to his fervent defense of Nixon's legacy. As recently as 2005, in the American Spectator, Stein said "Nixon was a peacemaker. He was a lying, conniving, covering-up peacemaker. He was not a lying, conniving drug addict like JFK, a lying, conniving war-starter like LBJ, a lying, conniving seducer like Clinton—a lying, conniving peacemaker."[8]

Career in the media
“ I've said to my wife repeatedly, I just want on my gravestone, 'He loved dogs' and 'Bueller, Bueller.' ”
— Stein on the impact of Ferris Bueller's Day Off on his life.[9]

Despite his prominence as a commentator on politics and economics, Stein is perhaps best known for his career in the entertainment industry, which began as a Hollywood consultant before he moved into acting. His film career was launched by his performance as the monotonic economics teacher in the 1986 movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off. In one scene, he gives an unscripted economics lecture, relying on his own economic expertise. He decided to just run with it when the director told him to try to be as boring as possible in this scene. The only scripted lines are those in which he calls attendance, indelibly phrasing the oft-repeated monotone line: "Bueller?...Bueller?"

Stein excelled at playing these similarly bland and unemotional characters and was subsequently typecast into many roles. He had a recurring role in the TV series The Wonder Years and played himself in Dave.

He also appeared in several television commercials, most notably for Visine Clear Eyes throughout the 1990s and 2000s ("The difference is clear...Dry Eyes? Clear Eyes.")—many ads spoof movies of the day, such as one where Stein is a painter (a play on The Da Vinci Code). Stein's deadpan, monotone deliveries stand in stark contrast to the more typical enthusiasm of commercial personalities. Before this, he appeared for a Godfather's Pizza ad in 1987 and as a bland science teacher in a 1990 ad for Keebler Sprinkle Cookies.

In 1997 Stein was given his own game show by Comedy Central titled Win Ben Stein's Money along with co-host Jimmy Kimmel (replaced by Nancy Pimental and later by Sal Iacono). True to its name, the money that contestants won on the show was subtracted from the $5000 Stein earned (in addition to his salary). The show won seven Emmy awards before ending its run in 2003.

In 1999, during the height of Win Ben Stein's Money's popularity, Comedy Central gave Stein another show, a talk show with celebrity guests entitled Turn Ben Stein On. One of the mainstays of the show was Stein's dog, Puppy Wuppy, who had free run of the set.

Other movies and television shows in which Ben Stein has appeared include: Seinfeld, Full House, Casper Meets Wendy, The Mask and its sequel, Son of the Mask as well as the TV show, The Mask: The Animated Series, Earthworm Jim (TV series), Star Search, MacGyver, Richie Rich, Game Show Moments Gone Bananas, Cavuto on Business, The O'Reilly Factor, CBS News Sunday Morning, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Family Guy, Fairly Odd Parents, Duckman, Married...With Children, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed [10]

In addition, among Stein's voice roles include The Pixies on the animated series The Fairly OddParents, Mr. Purutu on the animated Series The Emperor's New School, Professor Wisenstein in Bruno the Kid, and Pip on Animaniacs. Stein also voiced a psychiatrist, again named after himself, in the USA TV series Duckman; he once appeared in the sitcom Married with Children as a receptionist in the animal afterlife. He also made a cameo appearance in the comic book Young Justice; as Ali Ben Styn. Another cameo appearance was in the Family Guy episode When You Wish Upon a Weinstein. The episode was the show's most controversial ever because of its seemingly anti-Semitic plot, despite Stein and the writer Ricky Blitt, as well as Alex Borstein, the lead actress and a writer of the show, being Jewish. In addition, Stein has written for the television industry. He is noted for his outlines for the TV movie Murder in Mississippi and for the lengthy ABC miniseries Amerika. He has also contributed to the creation of the well-liked TV comedy Fernwood 2-Night.

On May 14, 2006, during an appearance on the Fox News program Your World with Neil Cavuto, Stein called for a tax increase of 3.5% for wealthy Americans, to be earmarked for soldiers and military initiatives. Indeed, Stein wrote an editorial for The New York Times critical of those who would rather make money in the world of finance than fight terrorism.[11]

Stein is noted for his investment advice. Stein recognized that there was something fishy going on with the accounting at MCI Worldcom and shorted the stock. He is now a featured writer at Yahoo! Finance.[12]

Ben Stein has a show on VH1 called America's Most Smartest Model,[13] in which he is the host. The show aims to find the smartest among fourteen models through a series of challenges.[14] Ben Stein was a special guest at the VH1 party in Malibu, celebrating the launch of his new show.[15]

He is an occasional political and economics commentator on CNBC's Kudlow & Company.

Political views


Stein is a pro-life activist and was given a Pro-Life Award in 2003 by the National Right to Life Educational Trust Fund.[16]

Larry Craig scandal

In 2007, Stein chastised the police and the GOP leadership for their response to the Larry Craig scandal. Stein said that Craig's sexuality should be a non-issue: "A party that believes in individual rights should be rallying to his defense, not making him walk the plank".[17]


Though often labeled as a political and economic conservative, Stein has criticized the U.S. tax code for being too lenient on the wealthy. He noted that Warren Buffett, one of the richest individuals in the world, enjoys a lower tax rate than his secretaries, and advocated increasing taxation of the opulent class.[18]

Views on science

Stein has publicly denounced the theory of evolution, which he and other intelligent design advocates term "Darwinism", declaring it to be "a painful, bloody chapter in the history of ideologies", "the most compelling argument yet for Imperialism", and the inspiration for the Holocaust.[19][20] Stein does not say belief in the theory of evolution alone leads to genocide, but that it is a necessary component.[21] He co-wrote and stars in the film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, a film which attempts to link evolution to the eugenics movement in Nazi Germany and to the Holocaust, and portrays advocates of intelligent design as victims of discrimination by the scientific community, which has widely rejected intelligent design as pseudoscience.[22] The famous evolutionary biologist and atheist, Prof. Richard Dawkins has strongly criticised Stein's film in an open letter on his website.[23]

In a Trinity Broadcasting Network interview with Paul Crouch Jr. regarding Stein's movie,[24] Stein made the following statement about science and religion:

Stein: When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. Myers, talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed … that was horrifying beyond words, and that’s where science — in my opinion, this is just an opinion — that’s where science leads you.

Crouch: That’s right.

Stein: …Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.

Crouch: Good word, good word.

Personal life

Stein is married to entertainment lawyer Alexandra Denman.[1] They once divorced and later remarried. He lives with Denman in Malibu, California and Beverly Hills.[25][26] Stein also has a summer home in Sandpoint, Idaho.

Books authored

Stein's book titles to date (7 fiction, 20 nonfiction) include:

Year Title Publisher ISBN

On the Brink: A Novel (Herbert Stein - Coauthor) Ballantine Books ISBN 0-345-27650-7
1979 The View from Sunset Boulevard: America as brought to you by the people who make television
1982 Ludes
1985 Financial Passages
1986 Her Only Sin ISBN 0-312-90636-6
1988 Hollywood Days, Hollywood Nights: the Diary of a Mad Screenwriter
1992 A License to Steal: the Untold Story of Michael Milken and the Conspiracy to Bilk the Nation ISBN 0671742728
2002 How to Ruin Your Life ISBN 1-56170-974-3
2003 How to Ruin Your Love Life ISBN 1-4019-0240-5
2004 How to Ruin Your Financial Life ISBN 1-4019-0241-3
Can America Survive? The Rage of the Left, the Truth, and What to Do About It ISBN 1-4019-0333-9
2005 Yes, You Can Be a Successful Income Investor: Reaching for Yield in Today's Market ISBN 1-4019-0319-3
Yes, You Can Still Retire Comfortably: The Baby-Boom Retirement Crisis and how to Beat It ISBN 1-4019-0318-5
2006 How Successful People Win: Using "Bunkhouse Logic" to Get What You Want in Life ISBN 1-56170-975-1
2007 The Real Stars: In Today's America, Who Are the True Heroes? New Beginnings Press ISBN 1-40191-144-7

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