Ben Stein, a writer, actor, and lawyer, was born Nov. 25, 1944, in Washington, D.C.
The only son of Mildred and Herbert Stein (a respected economist and chairman of the President's Council on Economic Advisors), Stein developed an interest in politics at an early age. From 1962-66, he attended Columbia University in New York City, where he majored in economics. He briefly worked as an economist for the Department of Commerce before enrolling at Yale Law School in 1968.
While earning his law degree, Stein also studied drama and vehemently protested American involvement in the Vietnam War.
After graduating, Stein worked briefly as an attorney with the Federal Trade Commission. He moved to California, where he taught film and law classes at the University of California at Santa Cruz, but returned to Washington and his job at the FTC in 1973. As the Watergate scandal unfolded, Stein wrote commentaries in defense of President Richard Nixon. When the articles caught the attention of the Nixon administration, Pat Buchanan recruited him to become a speechwriter.
Following Nixon's resignation, Stein worked for the Ford administration but left to focus his attention on the entertainment industry. In 1974, he became a film and television critic for The Wall Street Journal. Stein's writing caught the attention of producer Norman Lear, who commissioned him to write the TV pilot "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman."
During the early 1980s, Stein lived in Hollywood, where he contributed to a number of screenplays and wrote numerous books with topics ranging from his experiences in Hollywood to complex economic issues. In 1986, he began his unlikely road to stardom when director John Hughes cast him as the numbingly dull economics teacher in the urban comedy "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."
Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, Stein made a name for himself as a character actor in a number of popular comedies. He also achieved tremendous success with the Emmy-winning TV game show "Win Ben Stein’s Money" on Comedy Central.