PRIMER: Ben Stein

August 29th, 2012, byCarla Amurao

Photo courtesy: Van Evers, Tavis Smiley Media, Inc.

Airdate | Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hometown | Washington, DC

Why You (Should) Know Him

  • “Bueller? Bueller?” (see video below)
  • His trademark monotonous, “Wow,” bookended Clear Eyes advertisements throughout the 1990s. (see video below)
  • He was host of Win Ben Stein’s Money, a seven-time Emmy-winning quiz show on Comedy Central that aired from 1997-2002.
  • The Wall Street Journal, the now-defunct The Los Angeles Herald Examiner, King Features Syndicate, Barrons, Los Angeles Magazine, New York Magazine, E! Online, The American Spectator, The New York Times Sunday Business Section, Yahoo! Personal Finance and Newsmax Media all boasted his byline. Furthermore, he is a commentator for CBS’ Sunday Morning and Fox News.  

Why He’s Buzzing | A follow-up to 2004′s How to Ruin Your Financial Life, Stein’s latest text, How to Really Ruin Your Financial Life and Portfolio, will be released in October 2012.


  • A graduate of Montgomery Blair High School class of 1962, Stein’s classmate was journalist Carl Bernstein. Actress Goldie Hawn graduated from the same high school in 1963.
  • According to his bio, he was a speechwriter and lawyer in 1973 and 1974 for Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. But he did not write the line, “I am not a crook.”
  • In 1976, Time magazine speculated that Stein could have been Deep Throat.
  • Stein’s Hollywood career launched with his role in 1986′s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. His economics lecture was unscripted, as he pulled from his own knowledge and experience.
  • His resume includes working as an economist at the Department of Commerce as a poverty lawyer, a trial lawyer in trade regulation at the Federal Trade Commission, a university adjunct at American University, the University of California at Santa Cruz and at Pepperdine University. He has taught about the political and social content of mass culture, political and civil rights under the Constitution, libel law, securities law and ethical issues.
  • He is the only actor to appear in The Mask, Son of the Mask and the animated TV series The Mask as Dr. Arthur Neuman, according to his IMDB profile.
  • Despite his onscreen persona, Stein received the Freedom of Expression Award at the 2008 Entertainment Merchants Association’s Home Entertainment Awards for being outspoken on his economic and political beliefs.

Selection of written works and projects


1978    On the Brink: A Novel
1978    Dreemz
1979    The View from Sunset Boulevard: America as Brought to You by the People Who Make Television
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
2002    How to Ruin Your Life
2003    How to Ruin Your Love Life
2004    How to Ruin Your Financial Life
2004    Can America Survive? The Rage of the Left, the Truth and What to Do About It
2005    Yes, You Can Still Retire Comfortably: The Baby-Boom Retirement Crisis and How to Beat It
2008    How to Ruin the United States of America
2012    How to Really Ruin Your Financial Life and Portfolio


1984                The Wild Life
1986                Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
1987-1990       Charles in Charge (TV series, four episodes)
1989-1991       The Wonder Years (TV series, 12 episodes)
1992                Honeymoon in Vegas
1993                Dennis the Menace
1993                Full House (TV series, two episodes)
1995                Casper
1995                Married with Children (TV series, one episode)
1997                Seinfeld (TV series, one episode)
1998                Breakfast with Einstein
2004-2008       The Fairly OddParents (TV series, voice, seven episodes)
2006-2008       The Emperor’s New School (TV series, voice, eight episodes)
2003-2009       Family Guy (TV series, two episodes)
2013               The Engagement Ring

Ben Stein Video Clips

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

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  • P Ford

    Tavis, loved your interview with Ben Stein. Certainly agree with your views on the impact of poverty for our innocent children. How sad in the world’s most prosperous country. I only wish we had another option for the White House. Maybe you could run as an independent. You’d have my vote!

  • T Corinaldi

    I was watching your show and disagreee with both you and Mr. Stein’s comments on helping the poor. I have observed President Obama mention several times about the very thing Mr. Stein talked about creating program for people to go back to school because you can’t write a blank check for people. The Job’s bill he was trying to get through congress to help Poor and middle class people get jobs was blocked by the Republicans. So until the Republican decide it’s about the good of the country and helping those who are less fortunate the President’s hand seemed tied. The Republicans block every bill the President and the Democrats tried to push forward. Also with the way the President has been attach I can see that if he did anything outright to help Blacks he’d be labeled a Black Panther . Its a joke but you know what I mean they called the man a Socialist for wanting a health care system that they have in European countries and in Canada . Take Care I like your show though .

Last modified: August 29, 2012 at 6:02 pm