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Ben Stein
Ben Stein 2011.jpg
Stein at Murray State University in 2011
Benjamin Jeremy Stein

(1944-11-25) November 25, 1944 (age 79)
Education Columbia University (BA)
Yale University (JD)
Occupation Writer, lawyer, economist, actor, comedian, commentator
Years active 1970–present (writer and lawyer)
1986–present (actor and comedian)
Television Win Ben Stein's Money
Political party Republican
Alexandra Denman
(m. 1968; div. 1974)
(m. 1977)
Parent(s) Herbert Stein

Benjamin Jeremy Stein (born November 25, 1944) is an American writer, lawyer, actor, comedian, and commentator on political and economic issues. He began his career as a speechwriter for U.S. presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford before entering the entertainment field as an actor, comedian, and game show host. He is best known on screen as the economics teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, as the host of Win Ben Stein's Money, and as Dr. Arthur Neuman in The Mask and Son of the Mask. Stein also co-wrote and starred in the 2008 propaganda film Expelled promoting pseudoscientific intelligent design creationist claims of persecution. Stein is the son of economist and writer Herbert Stein, who worked at the White House under President Nixon. As a character actor he is well known for his droning, monotonous delivery. In comedy, he is known for his deadpan delivery.

Early life

Stein was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Mildred (née Fishman), a homemaker, and Herbert Stein, a writer, economist, and presidential adviser. He is Jewish and grew up in the Woodside Forest neighborhood of Silver Spring, Maryland. Stein graduated from Montgomery Blair High School in 1962 along with classmate journalist Carl Bernstein (class of 1960); actress Goldie Hawn (class of 1963) was one year 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 and the Philolexian Society. After graduating with honors from Columbia in 1966, Stein went to Yale Law School, graduating as valedictorian in June 1970.


Legal and academic career

Ben Stein
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.

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. He subsequently taught classes at the University of California, Santa Cruz on political and civil rights under the United States Constitution. At Pepperdine University Stein taught libel law and United States securities law and its ethical aspects. He was a professor of law and economics at Pepperdine University Law School from about 1990 to 1997.

Writing career

Stein writes a regular column in the conservative media outlets The American Spectator and Newsmax. He has also written for numerous publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, New York Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine, and Barron's Magazine. He wrote a regular biweekly column for Yahoo! Finance online, with his last article dated August 7, 2009. His bestselling books (with investment advisor Phil DeMuth) include Yes, You Can Retire Comfortably; Can America Survive?; and Yes, You Can Time the Market. In 2009, he published a collection of essays, The Real Stars.

Stein was fired from his position as a Sunday Business columnist at The New York Times in August 2009 owing to a policy prohibiting writers from making product endorsements or advertising. Stein had recently become an advertising spokesman for credit information company and, according to a Times statement, had assumed there would be no conflict provided that he did not discuss credit scoring in general or itself in his column. However, the publication felt that it would be inappropriate for him to write for them while he was involved in advertising and terminated his contract. Writing in The Spectator, Stein states his belief that the real reasons for his firing were budget cuts at the Times, his criticism of Obama, and pressure from those critical of Expelled, who "bamboozled some of the high pooh-bahs at the Times into thinking there was a conflict of interest".

Political career News Photo 080415-D-9880W-074
Stein with United States Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon R. England in 2008

Stein began his political career as a speechwriter and lawyer for President Richard Nixon, and later for President Gerald Ford.

In 2005, Stein said in the American Spectator:

Can anyone even remember now what Nixon did that was so terrible? He ended the war in Vietnam, brought home the POWs, 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 Agency. 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.

Career in the media

Actor Ben Stein
Stein speaks at a gala in honor of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors in 2008

Stein acted as the monotonous economics teacher in the 1986 movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off. In one scene, he lectures on the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930 and the then-current debate over supply-side economics.

Stein played similarly bland and unemotional characters. He had a recurring role in the TV series The Wonder Years (as science teacher Mr. Cantwell, who would narrate 16 mm films in monotone) and played himself in Dave.

He appeared in several television advertisements, such as for Clear Eyes eye drops throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Godfather's Pizza in 1987, a bland science teacher in 1990 for Sprinkled Chips Ahoy! cookies, and in 2013 for small business accounting service firm 1-800Accountant.

From 1997 to 2003, Stein hosted the Comedy Central game show 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 pay that Stein earned per episode (in addition to his salary). The show won five Daytime Emmy Awards before ending its run in 2003.

In 1999, Stein also hosted the Comedy Central talk show Turn Ben Stein On. One of the mainstays of the show was Stein's dog, Puppy Wuppy, who had free run of the set. In 2001, Stein appeared on a celebrity episode of The Weakest Link entitled "TV Hosts Edition" alongside other television hosts and was voted off in round 6 despite being that round's Strongest Link. Anne Robinson's quip was that while he "might win Ben's money; you're NOT taking ours!".

Other movies and television shows in which Stein has appeared include Charles in Charge; Seinfeld; Full House; Casper; Casper: A Spirited Beginning; Casper Meets Wendy; The Mask and its sequel, Son of the Mask as well as the television show, The Mask: Animated Series; Earthworm Jim; Star Search; MacGyver; Tales from the Crypt; Richie Rich; Game Show Moments Gone Bananas; Cavuto on Business; The O'Reilly Factor; CBS News Sunday Morning; Planes, Trains and Automobiles; Family Guy; the 1998–2004 version of Hollywood Squares; the Michael Berger-hosted version of Match Game; The Fairly OddParents; Duckman; Married... with Children; The Emperor's New School; My Girl 2; Ghostbusters II; and the intelligent design documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.

Carl Lender, Rachel Lender, Ben Stein
Stein (right) with Carl and Rachel Lender of Lender's Bagels in 2019

In addition, Stein's voice roles include The Pixies, magical creatures 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, Mr. Giggles, on The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius; a bingo caller on Rugrats; and Pip on Animaniacs. Futterman in Freakazoid. 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 as Rabbi Goldberg in the Family Guy episodes "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein" and "Family Goy". Stein also voiced the character Sam Schmaltz in the 1996 computer adventure game Toonstruck.

Stein has written for the television industry, including outlines for the TV movie Murder in Mississippi and for the lengthy ABC miniseries Amerika. He has also contributed to the creation of the talk show parody series Fernwood 2 Night.

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

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. 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.

On December 28, 2009, Stein appeared on CNN's Larry King Live with Ron Paul to discuss the attempted bombing of an American plane on Christmas Day 2009. Stein said that Paul's stance that the United States were "occupiers" in Iraq and Afghanistan was antisemitic. The comment started a shouting match between the two men. Two days later, Stein clarified that "if Rep. Paul says he is... not an anti-Semite, I believe him".

Stein's political and economics commentary has appeared on CNBC's The Kudlow Report and CNN.

Personal life

Stein is married to entertainment lawyer Alexandra Denman. They were married in 1968 and divorced in 1974. They reconciled and in 1977 they were married again. Stein lives with Denman in Beverly Hills and Malibu, California. He also has a summer home in Sandpoint, Idaho, and an apartment in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C., which he inherited from his parents. In 2014, performance artist Tanya Ma claimed that a financial arrangement between her and Stein had turned inappropriate. Stein said of the incident that he only expected "hugging and kissing" and that he often gets "mad crushes" on women that "last about ten minutes."

Views and advocacy

Tax code

Stein has criticized the United States Internal Revenue 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 and payroll taxes). Stein has advocated increasing taxation on the wealthy. Stein objected to Obama's proposal in 2010 not to extend tax cuts for the highest earning taxpayers in the midst of the recession, saying that

There is no known economic theory under which raising my taxes in the midst of a severe recession will help the economy recover. It isn't part of any well known monetarist or Keynesian theory. So if it does no good to raise our taxes, I assume we are being punished. But for what? I don't own slaves. I employ a lot of people full- and part-time and they are all happy with their pay. When charity calls, I almost always write out a check...Maybe when the economy recovers, raising my taxes makes sense, but for now, it's just punishment.

In 2012, Stein stated that due to the tremendous amount of national debt, he agreed with Obama's proposal to increase taxes on the wealthy and that ultimately everyone's taxes should be raised to avoid defaulting on the debt.

Ferguson shooting

In response to the death of Michael Brown, Stein made the following comment:

To call him unarmed is like calling Sonny Liston unarmed or Cassius Clay unarmed. He wasn't unarmed. He was armed with his incredibly strong, scary self.


Stein has denounced the scientific theory of evolution, which he and other intelligent design advocates call "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. Stein does not say belief in evolution alone leads to genocide, but that scientific materialism is a necessary component. He co-wrote and stars in Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, a film that aims to persuade viewers that evolution was instrumental to the rise of the eugenics movement, Nazi Germany, and the Holocaust, and portrays advocates of intelligent design as victims of intellectual discrimination by the scientific community, which has rejected intelligent design as creationist pseudoscience. In the trailer for the film, Stein said that his aim was to expose "people out there who want to keep science in a little box where it can’t possibly touch God."

Many critics point out that Stein selectively used and edited quotes by Charles Darwin to make his case in Expelled, also noting that scenes shot at Pepperdine University, in which Stein gives a speech to an auditorium full of students, in fact used a large number of extras, hired to respond favorably to Stein's speech, to fill the room.

The media response to the film has been largely unfavorable. It received an 11% meta-score from Rotten Tomatoes. Multiple reviews, including those of USA Today and Scientific American, have described the film as propaganda.

In a Trinity Broadcasting Network interview with Paul Crouch Jr. regarding the movie, Stein claimed that "[religion] leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people".

The Anti-Defamation League issued a statement condemning the film's misuse of the Holocaust and its imagery, "Using the Holocaust in order to tarnish those who promote the theory of evolution is outrageous and trivializes the complex factors that led to the mass extermination of European Jewry".

At the University of Vermont, Stein was invited to receive an honorary degree and be the commencement speaker for the graduating class of 2009. University President Dan Fogel received complaints about Stein's planned appearance, due to Stein's views on evolution. Stein declined his commencement invitation.

At the private, Christian Liberty University 2009 graduation, Stein was awarded an honorary degree and, according to the university, "spoke extensively about his work on Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed".

Foreign policy

Stein is a staunch supporter of Israel. On Larry King Live in 2009, in a heated exchange with then-Congressman Ron Paul, he referred to Paul as antisemitic for referring to the U.S. as "occupiers" in the Arabian peninsula.

Political endorsements

Stein endorsed John McCain for president in 2008, calling him "an impressive guy". That year, he also stated that he would vote for Ralph Nader. In January 2012, Stein appeared in political advertisements sponsored by Associated Industries of Florida supporting legislation that would create three resort casinos in South Florida. He claimed in late 2014 that President Barack Obama was the most racist president in American history, saying Obama "made everything about race".

In 2016, Stein reprised the famous attendance scene from Ferris Bueller in a campaign ad for Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley. In it, Stein intoned the last name of Grassley's opponent (Patty Judge) to silence, while facts about her missed votes and absences from state board meetings were listed. Stein then calls out "Grassley," which gets a response; Stein mutters, "He's always here."

Stein initially supported Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, but retracted his support in October 2016, writing, "But it's time for Donald Trump to go back to Trump Tower. Time for Mike Pence to move to the top of the ticket." However, Stein went on to vote for Trump.

Aunt Jemima

In February 2023, Stein released a video on Donald Trump’s Truth Social stating he missed the Aunt Jemima logo with a "large African American woman chef." He added, “But, I prefer when it was a black person, showing their incredible skill at making pancakes." The video was also shared on Twitter and the story ran on media outlets across the country.

The original Aunt Jemima logo and brand name was retired in 2021 by PepsiCo and its subsidiary, Quaker Oats. This was due to the connection with the "Mammy" stereotype and racial connotations associated with the character.

Filmography and television appearances

Year Title Credit Notes
Actor Screenwriter Role
1976 All's Fair No No Consultant
1977 Fernwood 2 Night No No Creative consultant
1984 The Wild Life Yes No Surplus salesman
1986 Ferris Bueller's Day Off Yes No Economics teacher
1987 Planes, Trains & Automobiles Yes No Wichita airport representative
1987–1990 Charles in Charge Yes No Stanley Willard 4 episodes
1988 Frankenstein General Hospital Yes No Dr. Who
1988 The Boost No Yes
1989 Ghostbusters II Yes No Public Works official
1989 Easy Wheels Yes No Preacher
1989–1991 The Wonder Years Yes No Mr. Cantwell 12 episodes
1991 Soapdish Yes No Nitwit executive
1991 MacGyver Yes No Major Snead Episode: "Honest Abe"
1992 Honeymoon in Vegas Yes No Walter
1992 Mastergate Yes No Marvin Rotweiler
1993 Melrose Place Yes No loan officer Episode: "My New Partner"
1993 Dave Yes No Himself
1993 Dennis the Menace Yes No Boss
1993 Me and the Kid Yes No Fred Herbert
1993 Full House Yes No Elliott Warner Episode: "Another Opening, Another No Show"
1993 Animaniacs Yes No Francis "Pip" Pumphandle Voice, episode: "Chairman of the Bored"
1993 The Day My Parents Ran Away Yes No Dr. Lillianfarb
1993–1994 Hearts Afire Yes No Mr. Starnes 2 episodes
1994 My Girl 2 Yes No Stanley Rosenfeld
1994 Love & War Yes No Dr. Baxter Episode: "Are the Stars Out Tonight?"
1994 Mr. Write Yes No Eliott uncredited
1994 North Yes No Curator
1994 The Mask Yes No Dr. Arthur Neuman
1994 Richie Rich Yes No School teacher
1995 Tales from the Crypt Yes No Andrews Episode: "Doctor of Horror"
1995 Miami Rhapsody Yes No Rabbi
1995 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Yes No Pro lawyer Episode: "Whine, Whine, Whine"
1995 Casper Yes No Mr. Rugg
1995 Married... with Children Yes No Thomas Episode: "Requiem for a Dead Briard"
1995 Freakazoid! Yes No H.A. Futterman Voice, episode: "Relax-O-Vision"
1995 Live Shot Yes No Hal, Herb 2 episodes
1995 The Marshal Yes No Ben Episode: "Time Off for Clever Behavior"
1995–1996 The Mask: Animated Series Yes No Dr. Arthur Neuman Voice, 3 episodes
1996–1998 The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper Yes No Mr. Happ Voice, 3 episodes
1996 Bruno the Kid Yes No Professor Wisenstein Voice
1996 Earthworm Jim Yes No Dr. Houston, Rosebud Voice, 2 episodes
1996 House Arrest Yes No Ralph Doyle
1996 Toonstruck Yes No Sam Schmaltz Video game
1996–1997 Duckman Yes No Dr. Ben Stein, Lionel Stein Voice, 9 episodes
1997 Seinfeld Yes No Shellbach Episode: "The Comeback"
1997 Murphy Brown Yes No Williams Episode: "How to Marry a Billionaire"
1997 A Smile Like Yours Yes No clinic video narrator Voice
1997 101 Dalmatians: The Series Yes No waiter Voice, episode: "Two Faces of Anita", voice role
1997 Casper: A Spirited Beginning Yes No Grocer
1997 Total Security Yes No Sam Hinkle Episode: "Citizen Canine"
1997 Rugrats Yes No Bingo caller Voice, episode: "Grandpa's Bad Bug/Lady Luck"
1997–2003 Win Ben Stein's Money No No Himself host
1998 Muppets Tonight Yes No The Sad And Lonely Man That Science Has Left Dr. Honeydew Episode: "Andie MacDowell"
1998 Breakfast with Einstein Yes No Jack
1998 Men in White Yes No Man in Strangemeister's head
1998 Casper Meets Wendy Yes No Lawyer uncredited
1998 Hercules Yes No Trivia Voice, episode: "Hercules and the Pool Party"
1998 The Secret Files of the Spy Dogs Yes No Ernst Stavro Blowfish Episode: "I.H.R.F./Oatz"
1998 Pinky and the Brain Yes No Francis "Pip" Pumphandle Voice, episode: "Star Warners"
1998 The Hughleys Yes No Dr. Mopp Episode: "I'm Shrinnnking"
1998 Tannenbaum Yes No Car lot owner
1999 Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain Yes No Rockin' Johnny Hot Episode: "At the Hop!"
1999 Wakko's Wish Yes No Desire Fulfillment Facilitator Voice
1999 Shasta McNasty Yes No himself Episode: "Adult Education"
1999 Turn Ben Stein On No No Himself Host, executive producer, theme music composer
2000 The Man Show Yes No Juggy University professor Episode: "X-Ray Specs"
2001 The Drew Carey Show Yes No Heavenly Guide Episode: "Drew's in a Coma"
2001 Lloyd in Space Yes No Ranger Wormy Episode: "Caution: Wormhole!"
2001 Osmosis Jones Yes No Doc uncredited
2002 The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius Yes No Giggles the clown Voice, episode: "Hall Monster/Hypno Birthday to You"
2002 Santa vs. the Snowman 3D Yes No Spunky the elf Voice
2002 Most Outrageous Game Show Moments No No Himself Co-host
2002 Do Over Yes No Teacher Episode: "Joel Larsen's Day Off"
2003–2009 Family Guy Yes No Rabbi Goldberg Voice, 2 episodes
2004 King of the Hill Yes No Quizmaster Voice, episode: "Stressed for Success"
2004–2008 The Fairly OddParents Yes No Head Pixie Voice, 8 episodes
2004 As Told by Ginger Yes No Buddy Baker Voice, 3 episodes
2005 Son of the Mask Yes No Dr. Neuman
2005 Game Show Moments Gone Bananas No No Himself (Presenter)
2006 Mayor Dog Yes No Narrator
2006 Totally Awesome Yes No Narrator
2006 The Emperor's New School Yes No Mr. Purutu Voice, 8 episodes
2007 America's Most Smartest Model No No Himself (Host)
2007 Your Mommy Kills Animals No No Himself
2008 Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed No Yes Himself Documentary
2012–2018 Cavuto on Business No No Himself Panelist
2016 Facetiming With Mommy Yes No Daddy TV series
2018 The Last Sharknado: It's About Time Yes No Alexander Hamilton
2019 Animal Sanctuary Yes No Donald Donkey Voice; Short
TBA The Engagement Ring Yes No Dr. Miller Announced
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