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Also Known As: Died: November 30, 2043
Born: April 11, 1878 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Copenhagen, Denmark Profession:

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Though pilloried without mercy by critics and music fans alike throughout his career, rapper Vanilla Ice was the first hip-hop artist to score a No. 1 record with his debut album, To the Extreme (1990), which featured his hugely successful signature song, "Ice Ice Baby." The record made him one of the biggest pop music acts in the business for about a year before a tidal wave of negative publicity and critical backlash destroyed his credibility. Ice would spend the next decade attempting to find his own way as an artist while struggling with serious drug and emotional issues. He emerged in the new millennium with secondary identities as a home renovator and occasional reality television star, most notably on "The Surreal Life" (The WB/VH1, 2003-2006). If the music community never fully embraced his newer, tougher-sounding material, Ice seemed to have the last laugh on his detractors by not only surviving his long fallow period but also emerging with his self-esteem intact, which did much to elevate him a degree or two above the one-hit wonder status.Born Robert Matthew Van Winkle on Oct. 31, 1967, Vanilla Ice's early years were marked by consistent turmoil within his family. Having never known his...

Though pilloried without mercy by critics and music fans alike throughout his career, rapper Vanilla Ice was the first hip-hop artist to score a No. 1 record with his debut album, To the Extreme (1990), which featured his hugely successful signature song, "Ice Ice Baby." The record made him one of the biggest pop music acts in the business for about a year before a tidal wave of negative publicity and critical backlash destroyed his credibility. Ice would spend the next decade attempting to find his own way as an artist while struggling with serious drug and emotional issues. He emerged in the new millennium with secondary identities as a home renovator and occasional reality television star, most notably on "The Surreal Life" (The WB/VH1, 2003-2006). If the music community never fully embraced his newer, tougher-sounding material, Ice seemed to have the last laugh on his detractors by not only surviving his long fallow period but also emerging with his self-esteem intact, which did much to elevate him a degree or two above the one-hit wonder status.

Born Robert Matthew Van Winkle on Oct. 31, 1967, Vanilla Ice's early years were marked by consistent turmoil within his family. Having never known his biological father, he was given the family name of his stepfather, whom his mother divorced when Ice was four years old. He spent much of his early years shuttling between his hometown and Miami, FL, where his second stepfather worked at a car dealership, before the family settled in Carrolton, TX. Ice found solace during this period in hip-hop and breakdancing, for which he adopted the moniker "Vanilla" and later "Vanilla Ice." However, motocross racing was his primary interest during this period until a 1985 accident turned his focus towards music. He began performing with friends at local malls before landing a regular gig as an opening act for hip-hop groups at City Lights, a club in South Dallas owned by Tony Quon, who became Ice's manager. His debut album, Hooked, was released to little acclaim by the independent label Ichiban in 1989. But a Georgia disc jockey found that listeners were responding favorably to the first single's B-side, a relentlessly catchy song called "Ice Ice Baby," which used the bass line from "Under Pressure" by Queen and David Bowie as its rhythmic foundation. A hastily assembled music video helped to attract further attention, and Ice was soon opening for such established hip-hop acts as Ice-T and EPMD.

Ice's growing public profile led to interest from several major labels, including Def Jam, which had been encouraged by Public Enemy to sign him on the basis of his appeal to white audiences. But Ice joined SBK Records, which released a remixed version of Hooked as To the Extreme, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard albums chart. Though reviews were mixed, the record sold 11 million copies during its 16 weeks on the charts, which instantly minted Ice as a superstar. The trappings of fame soon followed, including endorsements for Pepsi and Nike, guest appearances on Saturday Night Live (NBC, 1975- ) and in the feature "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze" (1991), as well as his own lookalike doll and a brief dalliance with Madonna which resulted in his appearance in her book Sex (1992). But with the rise in popularity also came the pitfalls of celebrity: Ice's credibility was severely damaged by false details in a bio penned by SBK, as well as his refusal to admit that the bass line from "Ice Ice Baby" was taken from "Under Pressure." He eventually recanted both situations, but matters were soon worsened by the presence of record producer Suge Knight, who allegedly threatened him with physical harm in order to obtain the publishing rights for "Ice Ice Baby." A 1991 arrest for threatening a homeless man with a pistol only added to the growing dark cloud over his career.

Harsh critical backlash for his second album, Extremely Live (1991), torpedoed sales, and his movie debut, "Cool As Ice" (1991), was a dismal failure. Fellow hip-hop artists like 3rd Bass and Del tha Funkee Homosapien were also relentless in tearing down Ice in their own music. He soon sought to wrest control over his decline by distancing himself from SBK and his established public image. After a three-year sabbatical from music, during which time he returned to motocross competition, he released his second studio album, Mind Blowin (1994). It was met with overwhelmingly negative response from critics that, along with the collapse of SBK from bankruptcy, capsized any chance of a comeback. Ice was soon adrift in a serious drug addiction that culminated in an attempted suicide by heroin overdose in 1995. The incident left him shaken and spurred him to make serious changes in his life, beginning with his Vanilla Ice persona, which he abandoned in favor of a career in motorsports. Ice soon became a top-ranked Jet Ski racer while studying real estate and maintaining a lucrative second career as a home renovator.

He began making tentative inroads back to music in 1995, fronting a rock band called Picking Scabs, which earned him a contract with Universal Republic Records. A friendship with producer Ross Robinson resulted in his third album, Hard to Swallow (1996), which blended his hip-hop past with his growing interest in darker hard rock material. Reviews were again largely negative, though the record reached gold sales status, signaling that a sizable number of listeners had forgiven him for his past transgressions. Collaborations with the Los Angeles rock group Betty Blowtorch and European DJ ReAnimator spawned further interest in Ice on both sides of the Atlantic. A fourth record, Bi-Polar (2001), continued his modest march towards new fame.

After reuniting with Tommy Quon as manager, Ice launched another phase of his career, this time as a reality television star. Between 2002 and 2004, he participated on such shows as "Celebrity Boxing" (Fox, 2002), where he was battered by Todd Bridges of "Diff'rent Strokes" (NBC/ABC, 1978-1985), and "The Surreal Life." He also returned to motorcross, where he placed seventh at the 2003 Suzuki Crossover challenge, while maintaining a consistent if low profile as a recording artist with 2005's Platinum Underground and Vanilla Ice is Back! (2008), neither of which found their intended audience. He soon returned to reality television, where he found greater fame as the star of "The Vanilla Ice Project" (DIY Network, 2010), which followed his efforts to renovate and flip homes in Florida. The series received some of the best reviews of Ice's career, as well as several awards from quality television organizations. He continued to record and perform, finding a newfound audience in the Insane Clown Posse's rabid "Juggalo" following, which prompted his move to the rap duo's label, Psychopathic Records, in 2011. A sixth album, W.T.F. (Wisdom, Tenacity And Focus, was released as a digital download by Radium Records that same year.

By Paul Gaita

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Fange Nr. 113 (1916) Director
2.
  Hans rigtige kone (1916) Director
3.
  Guldets Gift (1915) Director
4.
  Hvide djaevel, Den (1915) Director
5.
  Ned med vabnene (1914) Director

CAST: (feature film)

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