Vanilla Ice is an old-school rapper and often the answer to a trivia question regarding the one-hit wonders of the 1990s. However, Vanilla Ice's participation and success in the entertainment business extends beyond his achievement of having the fastest-selling hip-hop of all time album. The vinyl album To the Extreme included Vanilla Ice's best-known mega hit Ice Ice Baby, which arguably changed the music industry then.
While Vanilla Ice may have become a hip-hop star thanks to some remarkably corny lyrics of his one-hit song and dubious fashion choices over the years, he has found some mellowness and serenity when reflecting on how his star rose. If you are wondering – How much is Vanilla Ice worth? – you are not alone.
Early Life and Career
Vanilla Ice, a.k.a. Robert M. Van Winkle, was born in Dallas on Halloween in 1967; however, Van Winkle was raised in Texas as well as Miami, Florida. Van Winkle has never known his biological father, having taken the name of the man his Mom was married to at that time.
Robert Van Winkle was impacted by the music and culture of hip-hop at an early age, mainly because it allowed him to apply his love of poetry in a musical way, which never got in the way of his passion and success as an accomplished motocross racer.
Breakdancing was trending big when Van Winkle was in his early teens – and this is when he began practicing with a group of his Miami Friends. This practice led to Van Winkle's original nickname – Vanilla – because he was the only guy who was not black in the breakdance troop. It is noted that Van Winkle's nickname stuck even though he disliked it at that time.
How did Vanilla Ice Make His Money?
In the late 1980s, Vanilla Ice began performing as a rapper/dancer in a club in Dallas called City Lights. He was offered this job after impressing the crowd on an open mic night. He opened many famous acts that performed at the club, such as Public Enemy, MC Hammer, and Paula Abdul. The owner of the club, Tommy Quon, thought that there was commercial potential for Vanilla Ice, and he paid for studio time when songs that Ice had performed in the club could be recorded.
The Vanilla Ice Craze
The Vanilla Ice craze peaked during the first two years of the 1990s – during the time To The Extreme and his Magnum Opus Ice Ice Baby were released. The album from Vanilla Ice sold in excess of 15 million copies, and the individual song sold more than 150 million copies and is still sold on the market today.
It was also the first time that a hip-hop record had been at number one. The catchy riff in the song from Queen's Under Pressure caught everyone's attention and made the song an instant hit. The song was only supposed to be a B side for another single, but a radio station made a mistake and played the wrong song.
The success that he had enjoyed with Ice Ice Baby did not last. The album did quite well, earning 2 MTV Awards and a People's Choice Award, plus a nomination during the 33rd Grammy Awards for Best Rap Performance by a Solo Artist for Ice Ice Baby.
However, Ice struggled to come up with a follow-up that was as popular. He spent almost three years touring, and these shows were a success, but by this time, he was becoming somewhat disillusioned with the music industry.
Vanilla Ice - The Actor
Van Winkle is known as a bit of a theater kid, having participated in several plays, including his role as Captain Hook in a live rendition of Peter Pan. Vanilla Ice was actually the 2nd celebrity to take on this role after he replaced the Fonz – Henry Winkler.
Vanilla Ice also had the lead role in his 1991 comedic film – Cool as Ice – in which he played a rebellious rapper in a small town who falls for a straight-A student., but this movie was not popular with critics and did not enjoy any real commercial success. He also developed a drug problem, which culminated in him taking a heroin overdose in an attempted suicide, but his friends managed to revive him. After this, he took a complete break from the music industry.
In addition, Vanilla Ice often agrees to cameo roles, playing in movies like –
- That's My Boy
- The Ridiculous Six, where he donned a wig and a fake mustache to play- the iconic American writer Mark Twain.
- The Helix…Loaded – a parity of the sci-fi flick The Matrix.
- The Bros.
- The New Guy
- The Wrong Missy, plus a handful more.
Vanilla Ice Joined Reality TV in the 2000s
Vanilla Ice's first reality TV gig was on The Surreal Life – a VH1 production during which Vanilla Ice began a feud with former child star Gary Coleman. Other stars participating included Flavor Flav and Christopher Knight from The Brady Bunch.
Vanilla Ice has made several appearances across a variety of shows that also include nostalgic pieces that allow Ice to return to his roots.
- In 2009, Ice was involved in Hammertime – a reality series that followed the life of rapper MC Hammer.
- In 2012, he began a tenure as a judge on Canada Sings, a global talent show/glee club franchise. The Canada Sings series pits two teams of amateur singers against one another in a glee club-style performance style show. The weekly winners have a chance at $25,000 that will be donated to their choice of charity.
- In 2012, he participated in Trip Flip – a reality series where unsuspecting travelers/vacationers are led off the beaten path.
- Vanilla Ice returned to reality television in 2017 with an appearance on Season 23 of Dancing With The Stars. Vanilla Ice's performance with his partner Witney Carson, a professional dancer, landed the couple in 10th place.
- In 2017, Vanilla Ice joined The I Love the Nineties Tour as the tour's headliner, with other 90s icons that include Color Me Badd and Coolio.
- In 2017, he was involved with the documentary Who Killed Tupac?
- In 2018, Vanilla Ice tried his hand at Steve Harvey's Celebrity Family Feud and Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.
More recently, he has been working as a presenter for home improvement shows. He had a very successful show on the DIY Network called The Vanilla Ice Project and Ice My House. This show features Ice and his team as they renovated mansions and then sold them on for a profit. One of the reasons why the show was so popular is that it contained a lot of tips that people could adopt for their own homes to make improvements.
Vanilla Ice has been involved in the property renovation business since the 1990s and has released free training videos that help people get started in this industry. The show has been running for several seasons and features a different project in each season. Each individual episode focuses on a different room in the house so that by the end of the season, the whole property has been completely remodeled.
Vanilla Ice Net Worth Net Worth
Releasing the first hip-hop song ever to make it to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts has created a sort of financial annuity for Vanilla Ice as it still generates revenue annually years after its release.
Today, Vanilla Ice's net worth is estimated to be $12 million, although some estimates disclose Vanilla Ice's net worth above the consensus estimate. A large part of this is the value of his beach house in Miami and his successful career investing in and renovating real estate.
The rest of the money comes from his career in the entertainment industry, which has spanned almost 30 years. The fact that he largely disappeared from the public eye for a number of years, coupled with his drug addiction, means that people tend to assume that he would be broke. However, this is not the case, and he is actually a very wealthy man.
With his success in entertainment and the rising price of real estate, it is likely Vanilla Ice's net worth exceeds $12 million.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker