Ben Stein

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Ben Stein

Stein speaking at 2006 National Summit on Retirement Savings
Born Benjamin Jeremy Stein
November 25, 1944 (1944-11-25) (age 64)
Washington, D.C., United States
Occupation Attorney, Author, Speechwriter, Actor, Voice Actor, Game Show Host
Spouse(s) Alexandra Denman (1968 - 1974; 1977 - present)
Official website

Benjamin Jeremy Stein (born November 25, 1944) is an American actor, writer, conservative political and economic commentator, and attorney. He gained early success as a speechwriter for American presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Later he entered the entertainment field and became an actor, comedian, and Emmy Award-winning game show host. He is famous for his monotonous yet humorous voice in acting.

Stein has frequently written commentaries on economic, political, and social issues, along with financial advice to individual investors. 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.


[edit] Biography

[edit] 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 is 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.[3] 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, graduating in June 1970. He had stated that he did not have the highest grades in his class at Yale, but was voted valedictorian by the students because he was most popular.[4]

[edit] Legal and academic career

Stein speaking at Miami University in 2003

He was first a poverty lawyer in New Haven, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C. before becoming a trial lawyer for the Federal Trade Commission.[5]

Stein's first teaching stint was as an adjunct professor, teaching about the 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.[6]

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

Stein has recently been announced as the commencement speaker for the Liberty University 2009 graduation. [7]

[edit] 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.[citation needed] He currently writes a regular column for the Sunday New York Times Business Section and for Yahoo! Finance online.

[edit] 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."[8] 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 karma, 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.[9]

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:

Can anyone even remember now what Nixon did that was so terrible? He ended the war in Vietnam, brought home the POW's, ended the war in the Mideast, opened relations with China, started the first nuclear weapons reduction treaty, saved Eretz Israel's life, started the Environmental Protection Administration. Does anyone remember what he did that was bad?

Oh, now I remember. He lied. He was a politician who lied. How remarkable. He lied to protect his subordinates who were covering up a ridiculous burglary that no one to this date has any clue about its purpose. He lied so he could stay in office and keep his agenda of peace going. That was his crime. He was a peacemaker and he wanted to make a world where there was a generation of peace. And he succeeded.

That is his legacy. He 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.[10]

On June 24 , Stein received the Freedom of Expression Award at the Entertainment Merchants Association’s Home Entertainment Awards for "his outspoken economic and political beliefs."

[edit] 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.[11]

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 experience in economics. He decided to just run with it when the director told him to speak about something he knows well. 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 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 $5,000,000 Stein earned (in addition to his salary). The show won five Daytime 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: Charles in Charge, 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, and the highly criticized intelligent design vs. evolution documentary, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed [12]

In addition, 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, the birthday party clown on "The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" 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 one of the show's more controversial because of its seemingly anti-Semitic plot. Stein also voiced the character Sam Schmaltz in the 1996 computer adventure game Toonstruck.

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.

Ben Stein hosted a show on VH1 called America's Most Smartest Model.[13] The show aimed to find the smartest among fourteen models through a series of challenges.[14]

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.[15]

Ben Stein has also been a regular guest on Glenn Beck's daily show on CNN-HN to comment on various economic and social aspects of life in the United States. Recently Beck accused Ben Stein of being a closet liberal because of an article he wrote in the New York Times that advocated taxing the wealthy. Beck further accused him of having "inherited his wealth" a contention that Stein denied.

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

Stein is noted for his investment advice.[citation needed] He is now a featured writer at Yahoo! Finance.[16]

On March 18, 2007, in a column for CBS News' online version of CBS News Sunday Morning, Stein famously proclaimed in the beginning of the subprime mortgage crisis that the foreclosure problem would "blow over and the people who buy now, in due time, will be glad they did," the economy was "still very strong," and the "smart money" was "now trying to buy — not sell — as much distressed merchandise" in mortgages as possible.[17]

[edit] 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.[18] 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 not be an issue: "A party that believes in individual rights should be rallying to his defense, not making him walk the plank."[19]

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 has repeated the observation made by Warren Buffett, one of the richest individuals in the world (who pays mostly capital gains tax), that Buffett pays a lower overall tax rate than his secretaries (who pay income taxes). Stein has advocated increasing taxation on the wealthy.[20]

Stein drew fire for a 2008 interview with Glenn Beck in which Stein compared US President Barack Obama's campaign rally at Invesco Field to Adolf Hitler's Nazi rallies at Nuremberg.[21] The Economist called Stein's invocation of Nazism an intentional use of logical fallacy to distract from the campaign. [22] Quite notably Ben Stein endorsed Al Franken in the 2008 Minnesota Senate race, calling him an "impressive guy". [23]

[edit] Views on evolution and 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.[24][25] Stein does not say belief in the theory of evolution alone leads to genocide, but that it is a necessary component.[26] He co-wrote and stars in Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, a film that aims to persuade viewers that the theory of evolution is partially responsible for the eugenics movement, the rise of Nazi Germany, and the Holocaust, and portrays advocates of intelligent design as victims of religious discrimination by the scientific community, which has rejected intelligent design as creationist pseudoscience.[27][28][29]

The general media response to the film has been largely unfavorable. It received a 10% meta-score from Rotten Tomatoes. Multiple reviews, including those of USA Today and Scientific American, have described the film as propaganda.[27][28][29] The Chicago Tribune's rating was "1 star (poor),"[30] while the New York Times described it as "a conspiracy-theory rant masquerading as investigative inquiry" and "an unprincipled propaganda piece that insults believers and nonbelievers alike."[28] One of the few positive reviews appeared in Christianity Today.[31] Noted evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has strongly criticised Stein's film in an open letter on his website.[32]

In a Trinity Broadcasting Network interview with Paul Crouch Jr. regarding Stein's movie,[33] 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.

Stein was criticized by the Anti-Defamation League for the use of the Holocaust to further an anti-evolution agenda.[34] Asked for a comment about this by Vancouver Sun writer Peter McKnight for a critical article about Expelled, Stein replied, "It's none of their fucking business."[35]

Due in part to the notoriety he received for a talk he gave on economics at the University of Vermont, Stein was invited to be the commencement speaker at the graduation ceremony for the class of 2009. After the announcement, university president, Dan Fogel, notified Stein that a number of people had complained about Stein speaking at the commencement and receiving an honorary degree from the school, so that when he came he "would not be blindsided". The complaints were because his views of science were "affronts to the basic tenets of the academy." Due to the furor, Stein "immediately and most graciously declined his commencement invitation".[36] When asked about the episode by the Burlington Free Press, Stein said that describing his views as "antithetical to scientific inquiry" was "a wildly unfair characterization." He went on to say that he is not anti-science.[37]

[edit] Personal life

Stein is married to entertainment lawyer Alexandra Denman, with whom he has an adopted son.[1] He lives with Denman in Beverly Hills and Malibu, California.[38][39] Stein also has a summer home in Sandpoint, Idaho.[citation needed]

[edit] Bibliography

Stein's book titles to date (7 fiction, 21 nonfiction) include:

Year Title Publisher ISBN
On the Brink: A Novel

(Herbert Stein - Coauthor)

Ballantine Books ISBN 0-345-27650-7
1978 Dreemz

(Hardcover: California Dreemz)

Ballantine Books ISBN 0-345-28156-X
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
2008 How to Ruin the United States of America ISBN 1-40191-869-7

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b IMDB: Ben Stein bio
  2. ^ "Ben Stein Biography (1944-)". NetIndustries, LLC. Retrieved on 2008-04-22. 
  3. ^ Ben Stein Also Sings - Time magazine
  4. ^ - Transcripts
  5. ^ JD Journal: "Winning Thoughts from Ben Stein"
  6. ^ Ben Stein's official biography
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ Interview by Brian Howard: "20 Questions: Ben Stein" Philadelphia City Paper May, 1998
  9. ^ Stein, Ben: "Deep Throat and Genocide", "The American Spectator", June 1, 2005
  10. ^ Deep Throat and Genocide
  11. ^ Stein, Ben: "'Bueller, Bueller' Edition Almost Saves 'Ferris'", "The Washington Post", January 10, 2006
  12. ^ Expelled Press Release
  13. ^ "America's Most Smartest Model" (2007)
  14. ^ reality blurred + VH1 plans America's Most Smartest Model, The Salt-N-Pepa Show, Danny Bonaduce's Child Star, and Click!
  15. ^ Stein, Ben: "Looking for the Will Beyond the Battlefield", "New York Times", August 20, 2006
  16. ^ Ben Stein - Expert Financial Advice Columns on Yahoo! Personal Finance
  17. ^ Stein, Ben:"Ben Stein Says Economy Is Fine, Says Don't Worry About Foreclosure Blues, The Mortgage Market Is Robust","CBS News", March 18, 2007
  18. ^ Richard Kimble, "Tenth Annual Proudly Pro-Life Awards Dinner Provides a Powerful Testimony for Life"
  19. ^ Ben Stein Says Craig Was Lynched Twice CBS News
  20. ^ Stein, Ben. In Class Warfare, Guess Which Class Is Winning. New York Times. November 26, 2006.
  21. ^ Media Matters, "Stein on Obama's convention speech"
  22. ^ "The truth". The Economist. October 16, 2007. 
  23. ^ [2]
  24. ^ "Better Than We Deserve," American Spectator 2007 Dec.
  25. ^ Rennie, John. "Ben Stein's Expelled: No Integrity Displayed". Scientific American. Retrieved on 2008-04-12. 
  26. ^ "Ben Stein's Diary #60: From Boston To Berlin," American Spectator 2007 Sep., [3]
  27. ^ a b "This is propaganda, a political rant disguised as a serious commentary on stifled freedom of inquiry." Claudia Puig (April 18, 2008). "Also opening: 'Bin Laden,' 'Intelligence,' 'Forbidden Kingdom'". USA Retrieved on 2008-05-03. 
  28. ^ a b c Catsoulis, Jeannette (2008-04-18). "Resentment Over Darwin Evolves Into a Documentary". New York Times. Retrieved on 2008-04-24. 
  29. ^ a b Shermer, Michael (2008-04-09). "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed--Ben Stein Launches a Science-free Attack on Darwin". Scientific American. Retrieved on 2008-04-19. 
  30. ^ Roger, Moore. "'Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed' (Ben Stein monkeys with evolution)". Chicago Tribune.,1,6127461.story. Retrieved on 2007-04-24. 
  31. ^ Mark Moring (2008-04-18). ""Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed"". Christianity Today. Retrieved on 2008-05-14. 
  32. ^ Open Letter to a victim of Ben Stein's lying propaganda
  33. ^ Science Equals Murder (article at National Review Online)
  34. ^ "Anti-Evolution Film Misappropriates the Holocaust". Anti-Defamation League. April 29, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-04-30. 
  35. ^ "No intelligence allowed in Stein's film". Vancouver Sun. 21 June 2008. Retrieved on 2008-07-17. 
  36. ^ "Stein out as UVM commencement speaker". Retrieved on 2009 February 04. 
  37. ^ "Ben Stein responds to UVM flap". Retrieved on 2009 February 03. 
  38. ^ "Ben Stein". MySpace. 2008. Retrieved on 2008-05-17. 
  39. ^ Stein, Ben (2005-06-01). "Ben Stein". The American Spectator. Retrieved on 2008-05-17. 

[edit] External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Pat Sajak
Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host
with Jimmy Kimmel
Succeeded by
Bob Barker and Tom Bergeron
Personal tools