Fictional actuaries

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Fictional actuaries and the appearance of actuaries in works of fiction have been the subject of a number of articles in actuarial journals.

Film[edit]

  • About Schmidt (2002) - Warren Schmidt is portrayed by Jack Nicholson; the movie mostly covers Schmidt's retirement from an insurance company, and his adventures after retirement
  • Along Came Polly (2004) - Reuben Feffer (played by Ben Stiller) is a risk assessment expert, and though not explicitly stated, performs the job of an underwriter
  • Are You With It? (1948) - a musical comedy featuring Donald O'Connor as an actuary who is forced to join a carnival after misplacing a decimal point on a statistical table
  • The Billion Dollar Bubble (1976) - the Equity Funding scandal retold in the form of a movie, starring James Woods
  • Boyhood (2014) - Mason Evans, Sr. (played by Ethan Hawke) mentions at a baseball game that he recently passed his second actuarial exam, and later discusses his job at an insurance firm
  • Class Action (1991) - featured Gene Hackman and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as father and daughter lawyers on opposite sides of a massive class action lawsuit; actuarial analysis plays a key role in the outcome
  • Double Indemnity (1944) - a Billy Wilder film, with Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck; possibly the first to feature an actuary; plot revolves around a murder that seeks to gain advantage from a particular aspect of an insurance policy; an insurance investigator (played by Edward G. Robinson) knows the actuarial statistics and becomes suspicious
  • Escape Clause (1996) - Andrew McCarthy plays Richard Ramsay in an actuarial thriller; to quote TVguide.com, "The makers of this direct-to-video release thought the world was ready for a thriller about an insurance actuary. They thought wrong."[1]
  • Fight Club (1999) - Edward Norton plays the protagonist, who briefly describes that his job entails the assessment of risk associated with car accidents for an insurance company; though not explicitly stated, he performs the job of an underwriter who uses actuarially derived premiums to benchmark quotes
  • Saw VI (2009) - William Easton is a health insurance executive who describes actuarial mathematics in a conversation with John Kramer
  • Stranger than Fiction (2006) - Harold Crick (played by Will Ferrell), a socially isolated IRS auditor, mentions that he was once engaged to an auditor who left him for an actuary
  • Sweet Charity (1969) - documents the romantic life of an actuary, played by John McMartin with Shirley MacLaine as his love interest
  • Thirteen Conversations About One Thing (2001) - starring Matthew McConaughey; the lives of a lawyer, an actuary, a housecleaner, a professor, and the people around them intersect as they ponder order and happiness in the face of life's cold unpredictability
  • Tron - the character Ram (played by Dan Shor) is an actuarial program
  • Zootopia (also released as Zootropolis) (2016) - the character Jaguar is a young tiger that aspires to be an actuary[2]

Literature[edit]

  • The Areas of My Expertise - by John Hodgman; portrays actuaries as prophets who predict the future, and are organized into various guilds; they have various ethics, such as not predicting the date of one's own death
  • Batman - comic series which featured a villain named the Actuary (Detective Comics #683-4 (March–April 1995)), a mathematical genius who applies formulae to aid the Penguin in committing crimes.
  • Bet Me - by Jennifer Crusie; the main character, Minerva Dobbs, is a thirty-something actuary looking for love
  • Un Certain Monsieur Blot - by Pierre Daninos; Mr. Blot is an actuary, who wins a competition as the most average man in France; the book includes the acerbic observation that “there were two kinds of actuaries – those who were still doing actuarial work and those who had found something better to do”
  • The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic re part of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld fantasy series and feature Twoflower, the "actuary and world’s first tourist"
  • The Foundation Trilogy - by Isaac Asimov; often considered one of the greatest science fiction works of all time[citation needed] and features "psycho-historians," a sort of hidden priesthood that manipulates politics and economics on a galactic scale to accomplish the goals of peace and prosperity. Part of the theory is that on a planetary scale, people are not predictable but on a galactic scale, the law of large numbers (i.e., the Central Limit Theorem) is valid and therefore, the reactions of the galactic civilization, as a whole, are predictable. Given the characteristics of psycho-historians, they are very much like actuaries.
  • The Good Soldier Švejk - Lieutenant Pelikán is "a mathematician in an insurance firm"
  • "Hunted Down" - short story by Charles Dickens with an actuary, Mr. Meltham of the Inestimable Life Assurance Company, as its hero[3]
  • Industrial Magic - by Kelley Armstrong; character Reuben Aldrich is the head of the actuarial department at a supernatural organisation; he may also be a necromancer
  • The Infinite Shoeblack - by Norman MacOwan; the hero (played by Leslie Banks) is a poverty stricken student of the Faculty of Actuaries innocently residing in an Edinburgh brothel [4]
  • Mrs. Warren's Profession - "I shall set up in chambers in the City and work at actuarial calculations and conveyancing," says Vivie, the daughter of the eponymous heroine of George Bernard Shaw’s play[5]
  • Preferred Risk - by Frederik Pohl and Lester del Rey (under the pseudonym Edson McCann); describes a dystopian future dominated by the insurance industry; in Pohl's own words, "the one novel I wrote with Lester del Rey, which was called Preferred Risk, took a year out of my life. It's a terrible book. If you come across it, don't read it." [6]
  • The Year of the Jackpot - short story by Robert A. Heinlein; the male protagonist is a former actuary whose analysis of current events leads him to a disturbing conclusion about the fate of the world.

Manga[edit]

  • Homunculus - by Hideo Yamamoto; features Susumu Nakoshi as the story's protagonist, who was an actuary before he told people he was going on an extended vacation; instead, he lives in an old car; he resigns later in the story, and his reason for throwing his job away is still unknown
  • Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service - features a malevolent actuary who uses statistics to determine scenarios that will most likely result in the death of particular people

Television[edit]

  • The Collector (2004) - in the episode titled "The Actuary", an actuary uses the Devil's powers to predict the exact lifespan, whereabouts and circumstances of others to help mobsters rub out the competition [7]
  • Elementary - in the Season 1 episode "A Landmark Story", F. Murray Abraham portrays The Actuary, a hitman whose M.O. is to kill individuals in ways that make the death look like an accident or even a peaceful passing
  • Ghost Whisperer - in the Season 4 episode "Thrilled to Death", an actuary who is terminally ill dies and his ghost haunts his neighbour
  • Gilmore Girls (2000) - in the episode "Star-Crossed Lovers and Other Strangers," Lorelai's mom sets her up on a date with actuary Chase Bradford, played by Paul Cassell
  • Hot in Cleveland - in the Season 2 episode "How I Met My Mother", Joy meets her biological son, Owen, who explains his role as an actuary by way of "it's an insurance thing"; he returns in the Season 4 opener and Joy admits that she stills has no idea what an actuary is
  • Kim Possible: A Sitch in Time - Ron's father's job is not an obstacle to the family moving to Norway (and, later, the moon); "I'm an actuary. I can work anywhere people attach a dollar value to human life."
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent - episode "Probability" features Mark Linn-Baker as Wally Stevens, an insurance investigator whose work is often described in the context of performing actuarial calculations
  • Numb3rs (2005) - in the episode titled "Sacrifice," Professor Charlie Eppes refers to actuarial science
  • NYPD Blue - recurring character Dr. Jennifer Devlin (character John Clark's love interest) states that her father is an actuary
  • Person of Interest - in the Season 2 episode "Bury the Lede", John Reese pretends to be an actuary
  • Profiler (1996–1999) - episode "Perfect Helen" in Volume 2 of Season 3 is about a disturbed actuary
  • The Robinsons - sitcom about a reinsurance actuary, Ed Robinson (played by Martin Freeman), who realises that reinsurance is not his passion and decides to rethink his life [8]
  • The Shield (2002) - in its third episode, "The Spread", the police interrogate a rapist who claims to be an actuary
  • Super Fun Night - one of Kimmie's best friends (Helen-Alice) plays an actuary
  • The Wild Wild West (1968) - had an episode titled "The Night of the Avaricious Actuary"[9]

Theater[edit]

  • I Love You Because (2006) - musical; major character Diana Bingley is an actuary; she suggests some formula-based "dating rules" to her friend Marcy in the key number "The Actuary Song"

Other[edit]

  • Society of Actuaries - holds a speculative actuarial fiction contest [10]
  • Wordplay - documentary which explores the world of crossword makers and aficionados; makes reference to actuaries as one of three occupations which are particularly adept at crossword solving

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Howard, Byron [ByronPHoward] (March 14, 2016). "@jordanolling @thejaredbush The actuary's name is Jaguar (pronounced 'hog-u-are')" (Tweet). Retrieved December 25, 2016 – via Twitter. 
  3. ^ http://www.contingencies.org/sepoct01/dickens.pdf
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ [3]
  6. ^ [4]
  7. ^ [5]
  8. ^ [6]
  9. ^ [7]
  10. ^ [8]

External links[edit]