Vanilla Ice, born Robert Matthew Van Winkle on October 31, 1967, became a household name in the 1990s with his breakout song ‘Ice Ice Baby’ which has remained a party playlist staple to date. Before he began rapping, Van Winkle was a DJ, breakdancer, and Motocross rider. After he began recording music, he branched out into film and acting. During a brief music hiatus, he started jet-skiing competitively and even studied real estate. He even had a DIY reality TV show and released a book on the subject! Celebrate the multi-talented performer and athlete on his birthday today.
Vanilla Ice is a pop culture icon best known for his 1990s rap. Born, Robert Matthew Van Winkle on October 31, 1967, in Dallas, Texas, Ice took his stepfather’s surname at the time of his birth. He developed a love for hip hop at an early age and began breakdancing with a troupe in his early teens. Later, he began participating in informal rap battles at parties. Ice is an avid motorcycle enthusiast winning several Motocross championships before he became a professional rapper.
In 1987, he opened for rap legend Sir Mix-a-Lot at his shows on the Stop the Violence tour, catapulting him into the big league of rap. In 1989, Ice recorded his most iconic single ‘Ice Ice Baby.’ He released his first studio album “To The Extreme” that same year and it became the fastest-selling hip hop album of all time. In 1991, he appeared in the movie “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze.” In 1993, he took a sabbatical from music. Ice resumed Motocross racing and started to compete in jet-skiing. He then resumed his career in music in the late 1990s, releasing his third studio album.
In the early 2000s, Ice collaborated with American rap rock duo Insane Clown Posse and appeared on several reality TV shows. He became increasingly involved in real estate projects in the early 2010s, starting his home renovation show in 2009. In 2011, he published a book about succeeding in the real estate business. He continued his acting career, starring in Adlam Sandler’s “That’s My Boy” (2011) and appeared in a live theater pantomime production of “Peter Pan.” In 2019, it was announced that actor Dave Franco would star in a biopic about the rapper.
Ice signs a record deal with Ultrax.
‘Ice Ice Baby’ is released along with several other tracks.
Ice moves to SBK Records.
Ice’s album “To The Extreme” becomes an instant hit and the fastest-selling hip-hop album.
Ice makes a cameo appearance in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze.”
Van Winkle releases a book titled “Get Rich Flipping Houses” about how to be successful in the real estate business; he is also honored as Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist by the American Music Awards.
Why We Love Vanilla Ice
He respects his family’s privacy
Van Winkle prefers to keep mum about his family life. One of the primary reasons, he says, is that he wants to protect his mother.
He beat addiction
Van Winkle became addicted to various drugs in the early 1990s. After a failed suicide attempt, he decided to get clean.
He takes accountability for his mistakes
Van Winkle once claimed to have Native American ancestry. After it was discovered this was not true, he made a public apology. He says he believes First Nations people are “like royalty.”
5 Surprising Facts
He’s a vegetarian
Ice eliminated meat from his diet in 2006.
He got his stage name while breakdancing
Because Ice was the only white member of his breakdancing group, his friends nicknamed him “Vanilla.”
He wrote his hit song at 16
Van Winkle was only 16 when he wrote the lyrics of his hit song ‘Ice Ice Baby.’
He started rapping professionally after an injury
Van Winkle broke his ankle during a Motocross race and used the recovery time to work on his beatboxing skills which set him up for a rap career.
He was stabbed
Van Winkle was assaulted with a knife outside of City Lights, the club where he worked as a DJ before he started rapping professionally.
Vanilla Ice FAQs
Where did Vanilla Ice get his nickname?
It’s a combination of his nickname “Vanilla” and one of his breakdance moves called “The Ice.”
What other books has he authored?
He published his official biography titled “Ice by Ice” in 1991 and “Vanilla Ice Project – Real Estate Guide” in 2011.
Did Freddie Mercury hear ‘Ice Ice Baby’?
Reports say that when Queen’s lead singer first heard Ice’s song, he thought he was listening to the original Queen song.
Vanilla Ice’s birthday dates