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Ben Stein (Benjamin J. Stein) was born November 25, 1944 in Washington, D.C., (He is the son of the economist and writer Herbert Stein) grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland, and attended Montgomery Blair High School. He graduated from Columbia University in 1966 with honors in economics. He graduated from Yale Law School in 1970 as valedictorian of his class by election of his classmates. He helped to found the Journal of Law and Social Policy while at Yale. He has worked as a poverty lawyer in New Haven and Washington, D.C., a trial lawyer in the field of trade regulation at the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C., a university adjunct at American University in Washington, D.C., at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA. At American U. He taught about the political and social content of mass culture. He taught the same subject at UCSC, as well as about political and civil rights under the Constitution. At Pepperdine, he has taught about libel law and about securities law and ethical issues since 1986. In 1973 and 1974, he was a speech writer and lawyer for Richard Nixon at The White House and then for Gerald Ford. (He did NOT write the line, "I am not a crook.") He has been a columnist and editorial writer for The Wall Street Journal, a syndicated columnist for The Los Angeles Herald Examiner (R.I.P.) and King Features Syndicate, and a frequent contributor to Barrons, where his articles about the ethics of management buyouts and issues of fraud in the Milken Drexel junk bond scheme drew major national attention. He has been a regular columnist for Los Angeles Magazine, New York Magazine, E! Online, and most of all, has written a lengthy diary for ten years for The American Spectator. He also writes frequently for The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, op. ed. and almost every other imaginable magazine.
He has written and published sixteen books, seven novels, largely about life in Los Angeles, and nine nonfiction books, about finance and about ethical and social issue in finance, and also about the political and social content of mass culture. He has done pioneering work in uncovering the concealed messages of TV and in explaining how TV and movies get made. His titles include A License to Steal, Michael Milken and the Conspiracy to Bilk the Nation, The View From Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood Days, Hollywood Nights, DREEMZ, Financial Passages, and Ludes. His most recent book is the best selling humor self help book, How To Ruin Your Life. He has also been a longtime screenwriter, writing, among many other scripts (most of which were unmade ) the first draft of The Boost, a movie based on Ludes, and the outlines of the lengthy miniseries Amerika, and the acclaimed Murder in Mississippi. He was one of the creators of the well regarded comedy, Fernwood Tonight.
He is also an extremely well known actor in movies, TV, and commercials. His part of the boring teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off was recently ranked as one of the fifty most famous scenes in American film. Starting in July of 1997, he has been the host of the Comedy Central quiz show, "Win Ben Stein's Money." The show has won seven Emmies. He appears regularly on the Fox News Channel talking about finance. He is currently a celebrity judge on the CBS hit, Star Search. He is also at presently at work on a detective show for CBS. He lives with his wife, Alexandra Denman ( former lawyer,) his son, Tommy, four cats and two large dogs in Beverly Hills.
Ben Stein to speak at Ithaca College Commencement
Ithaca College has adopted the catch phrase from the 1980s film "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" with one exception - the name it's calling is "Stein," Ben Stein.
IC has already secured its commencement speaker for the May 15, 2005 occasion. Stein, who wrote speeches for Richard Nixon and continues to be well known for his role as a monotone economics teach in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", will deliver the main address.
Stein, who boasts a degree in economics from Columbia University and writes about the subject in publications such as the Wall Street Journal and Forbes magazine, is also known for putting his own funds on the line for six years during the Emmy Award-winning television quiz show, "Win Ben Stein's Money."
"Ben Stein has what may be the ultimate hyphenated career description, making him as well known on college campuses as he is in corporate board rooms," said Ithaca College President Peggy Williams in a press release last week.
Stein has a degree in economics from Columbia University and a law degree from Yale University, where he helped to found the Journal of Law and Social Policy. After working as a lawyer, Stein moved to Hollywood where he authored a book about life in the movie-making town. He is currently a regular commentator for the CBS Sunday Morning news program as well as a non-fiction author of financial advisement books.
Win Ben Stein's Money quiz show
Win Ben Stein's Money is a 'Jeopardy' style game show where contestants get a chance to win $5,000 of Ben Steins' money. It starts out with three contestants answering questions to try to get as much money as they can. In round two, the player with the lowest amount of money has to give it back to Ben, and Ben takes their place for the rest of the round, where questions' values rise to $200 to $500 of Ben's money. At the end of round two, again the player with the lowest winnings gets canned, and the money goes back to Ben. In round three, the player with the most winnings will face Ben in a 'lightning round' where they have one minute to get ten questions correct, and if they get more right than Ben, they get all $5,000 of Ben's money. If they tie with Ben, they get the money they won in rounds' one and two, plus an extra $1,000. If they get less than Ben, all they get is the money that they won in round's one and two. The sad and dismal truth to this show is, Ben Stein's Money is given to him by Comedy Central, and whatever the player's don't win, he gets to keep. Thus, he nets anywhere from 15 to 18 thousand dollars a week! Win Ben Stein's Money can be seen Monday-Thursday at 7:30 P.M.
Ben Stein's father Herbert Stein, speaks about his son's phenomenon
When I walk in Georgetown with my son, pretty young girls nudge each other and whisper, "It's him! It's him!" They don't mean me. My function in this street scene is to hold the girls' camera and take their picture with the Star.
I am surely not the most objective observer of the Ben Stein phenomenon, but I am probably the best informed. So let me explore the question: How did my son, Ben, become a Star? It wasn't by being the world's most devoted son, making the long trip from Los Angeles to Washington about once a month to give me company, which he does. It wasn't by being the world's most devoted father, spending many hours each day with his 10-year-old son; or by writing 15 books. I have a devoted daughter who is a great wife, mother, writer, cook, and pro-Israel volunteer worker--but that doesn't make her a Star
You become a Star by being seen repeatedly in a recognizable way by millions of people. That means being in the movies or, especially, on TV. What you have done in these media doesn't matter terribly much; what matters is having been seen. Even after my occasional appearances on TV-talk shows, people come up to me and say, "I saw you on TV." They don't say whether they liked my performance or agreed with what I had to say. The important thing is that they recognize a face they have seen on TV.
My son's approach toward stardom began about 12 years ago with a movie, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and continued through various other films, sitcoms, and TV commercials. But he was not then a full-fledged Star. (I guess we don't use the word "starlet" for such cases; it is reserved for something else.) What made him a Star was his new TV show, Win Ben Stein's Money. As its name suggests, the show would not be the same without him.
WBSM is a unique quiz show. It is more playful than, for instance, Jeopardy. Ben first plays the role of the host, explaining the game and asking the questions. But he then becomes a contestant, competing with the more successful guests. There is a witty, sometimes rude, interchange among Ben; Jimmy Kimmel, the co-host; and the guests. The closest parallel I can think of is the old Groucho Marx show You Bet Your Life.
The fact that the guests are competing for Ben's money gives it an unusual thrill. The winners in other quiz shows are not taking the money away from any identifiable, live person--Alex Trebek on Jeopardy, for example. They are taking the money from some faceless institution--such as Merv Griffin Enterprises. But trying to get the money from this well-known person, Ben Stein, who is right there and expressing his torment at losing the money, creates an unusual tension. (Of course, the money is Ben's only in what an economist might call the "opportunity cost" sense. That is, he did not put it up originally, but the more the guests win the less he has to keep.)
about 20 episodes of the show, I am still amazed that my little boy is up there on the screen. There has been very little theater in the Stein family. A great-aunt had the candy concession in a Yiddish theater on the Lower East Side of New York City. An uncle was in the chorus of one of those doughboy musicals after World War I. The Steins are not the Barrymores, but there is Ben on the screen. I'm also amazed at the things he knows, like of what river the Zambezi is a tributary.
He plays two different characters on the show. In one character he is what I think of as himself. He is witty, well-informed, and good-natured. In the other character he shouts; becomes excited; and goes through various gestures, like bowing, saluting, and rapping himself on the chest. I much prefer the former, but the audience seems to like it all, and that's show business.
"How does it feel to be the father of a Star?" people often ask me. It would be hypocritical of me to deny that there is a certain amount of envy. Like almost everyone else, I like attention. He may be diverting attention from me, although those pretty, young girls on the street in Georgetown would not have been giving me attention anyway. And there is some gain in attention, probably a net gain for me. People who never paid any attention to me as economic adviser to the president, or even as a columnist for Slate, do give me some attention because I am the father of a Star. And I get satisfaction from thinking that part of his theatrical success derives from the dull voice he inherited from me.
But the envy is a small thing, and I confess it only in a rather transparent effort to gain credibility. Mainly I am happy and proud--not just because he is a TV Star but because he is a TV Star in addition to being a good son, a good father, a good writer, and an energetic worker for many good public causes. I am happy to think that his mother and I, if we did not make him what he is, did not prevent him from becoming what he is.
Ido feel, however, some anxiety in this situation. In one of Saul Bellow's books there is a sentence, which I have never been able to find since I first read it, about grasping "the hot wire of publicity"--and not being able to let go. Stardom can be addictive. It can be so exhilarating that one needs ever greater amounts of it and can be induced to do silly or reckless things to get more of it. Stardom can also be very transitory, and losing it, after once having had it, can be terribly depressing. I don't think any of that will happen to Ben. He is too many other solid things, in addition to being a Star. But that is something the father of a Star worries about, when he isn't just enjoying the fun of it all.
Ben Stein is serious about retirement
Comedian Ben Stein has been making the rounds in his trademark business suit and sneakers with a not-so-funny message: "People aren't saving anywhere near enough for a comfortable retirement." Stein, spokesman for the annual National Retirement Planning Week, says he is worried that many people won't be able to retire or will have saved so little that they will outlive their money.
An economist in addition to being a humorist, he wants Americans to develop plans to make their retirement nest eggs grow. Young people can take advantage of compounding interest. Stein's advice to them is to "save systematically, and you'll be golden." He suggests a savings target of 10 percent of income. Older people may need to do some strategizing, and that may require the help of a financial planner or other adviser, he said. "Start immediately, even if you're in your 50s," he said.
There's little question but that Americans need to think more seriously about retirement savings. A survey by the nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute in Washington found that just 42 percent of workers or their spouses have calculated how much they need for retirement, down from 53 percent in 2000.
Ben Stein's Hero
Harty never expected to be greeted by a celebrity at a Dallas airport. In September, when Harty was on his way from Iraq, where he is stationed, to Tonganoxie to see his wife, Krista, and their 2-year-old son, Noah, he welcomed a chance to clean up and change uniforms in the Dallas Airport.
When leaving the restroom, he recognized writer/actor Ben Stein approaching him. "He said, ‘Captain Harty,'" Harty recalled. The two visited for a few moments, and then Stein asked if he could buy lunch for Harty and a couple other soldiers who were nearby. The other soldiers couldn't stay because they had flights to catch, but Harty, who had a two-hour wait, accepted the invitation.
"As we walked down the airport toward the food court, numerous people stopped us and asked for his photograph," Harty recalled in an e-mailed letter to The Mirror. "And what has stuck in my head to this day is this: A man who stopped and asked for a photograph said to Ben, ‘You are my hero.' "And he (Ben Stein) quickly said to the individual, ‘I am not the hero -- this soldier is the hero.' At that moment I felt that all we were doing in Iraq was all worthwhile."
During lunch, Stein asked Harty about what he did on a daily basis in Iraq, what his background was, what his family was like. Stein was curious about the "good news stories" from Iraq that don't make their way into news stories. "So I added him to our ‘unclassified' newsletter that we put out monthly," Harty said. The visit with Stein was the start of a great trip home, Harty said, adding: "That is because I was with my wife and son for 15 wonderful days and I wasn't in Iraq."
Ben Stein donates money for Soldiers Angels
The upstart California organization Soldiers' Angels, with help from Centereach's VFW Post 4927 and tens of thousands of individuals across the country, is trying to send a holiday stocking to each of the soldiers currently serving - or at least as many as they possibly can.
Patti Patton-Bader, whose son recently got back from training Iraqi forces on the Iraq-Syria border, started Soldiers' Angels after her son called and asked her to send T-shirts and other clothing, among other things, because there wasn't enough there. But rather than send only him a box of goodies, Patton-Bader tried to enlist others to help out as well.
She said the goal is for soldiers to be able to "sit back with a cup of hot chocolate and call home," adding that the stocking and items to fill it can be purchased for about $10. On the celebrity front, Patton-Bader said Ben Stein has donated enough money for about 1,000 stockings, and Nicole Robinson is holding a dinner cruise to raise money for Soldiers' Angels.